Prepositions and Time Words

Prepositions and Time Words


(year, month)



(day, date)

Onmonday,onDec. 14, 2001





(decade, long time period)

Duringthe 1960s,duringthe 20th Century


Specific Time: “When?” (Use simple tenses.)

Whendidyou eat your breakfast?

Iatemy breakfast at 9:00.

Whenwereyou born?

Iwasborn in 1979.

Whenisyour birthday party?

My birthday partyison Friday.

Whenwillyou graduate?

Iwilgraduate in June.


Ongoing Action

Mr. Barnesis watchingtelevision now.

While hewas watchingtelevision, the phone rang.

Hewill be watchingtelevision tonight when his wife gets home.


Duration: "How Long?"

How longhaveyoubeenin the U.S.?

Ihave beenhere since 1999/for two years.

How longwereyou in California?

Iwasin California for three weeks.

How longwillyoubein Maine?

Iwill bethere for a month.


Completed Action

Ihave finishedmy homework already. (before now)

After Ihad finishedmy homework, I started to cook dinner.

Iwill have finishedmy homework, when I start to cook dinner.



In + (amount of time)usually refers to the future:

I will see youin two days(from now).

But it can also indicate a length of time:

I finished the jobin two hours.


Ago follows time word(s) and is used to indicate the amount of time before the present:

I called hertwo weeks ago.

She returned my callfive minutes ago.


Words indicating actions occurring at the “same” time (or nearly the same time)


When I was in high school, I had a car.

As soon as

As soon as I got to the theater, I looked for a seat.


Once I finish my geometry, I will start studying chemistry.

The moment (that)

The moment (that) I saw her, I knew who she was.


Words indicating actions occurring at “different” times


Before my husband left, I had already packed his bags.


After she eats her dinner, Ms. Warner will go shopping.

By the time

By the time I get to Denver, I will have traveled 200 miles.


I cleaned the house until my wife came home.

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