On vs. In

'On' and 'in' are both prepositions that show time which is why they are confused by learners. In this lesson, we will learn their uses and differences.

"On" vs. "In" in the English grammar

What Is Their Main Difference?

The main difference between the prepositions of time 'on' and 'in' is that 'on' refers to a specific date while 'in' is used to talk about longer periods of time.

Talking about Specific Dates

We use the preposition 'on' to show when exactly an action or event happened. It is used with days of the week, specific dates, holidays. Have a look:

I was working on Thanksgiving and missed the family dinner.

The doctor is here on Saturdays.

Talking about Long Periods

We use 'in' to talk about long periods of time which include months, seasons, years, decades, etc. For example:

He started working here in 2017.

I will graduate in three months.

Are They Interchangeable?

They are not interchangeable. 'On' and 'in' showcase different time factors, therefore, replacing them will cause a drastic change in the meaning of the sentence and will confuse the audience.

Can They Be Used in One Sentence?

We can use more than one preposition of time in one sentence to give more detail about time. Have a look:

I met my wife on a Monday in 1989.

The incident occurred on Christmas in 1999.

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