At

'At' is a preposition that has many functions including expressing time and place. In this lesson, we will examine it in detail.

How to Use the Preposition "At" in the English Grammar

The preposition at generally shows a specific time or place and it is used before nouns or noun phrases to show these functions:

1. 'At' as a Preposition of Time

Use

At is used to show a precise time like hours, minutes, precise periods of time, or holidays and festivals that last two or more days. For example:

I start working at 9 am.

I go to Paris at Christmas.

Christmas is a long holiday.

She is cooking a meal at midday/ midnight/ night.

Tip

Precise periods of time are used with the preposition 'at', but the preposition in is used with morning, evening, and afternoon. For example:

I watched a drama in the morning.

I will call you in the afternoon.

Position in a Sentence

The preposition at comes before a noun. The noun or noun phrase after the preposition is called the object of a preposition. For example:

I go to Paris at Christmas.

She leaves work at night.

Tip

If time expressions are followed by determiners, prepositions are never used after the determiners. Look:

Every at night, I go to the gym.

2. 'At' as a Preposition of Place

Use

At is used to show the exact location like addresses, the location of events, or public places. To learn more, take a look:

  • At is used before addresses. For example:

I live at 28, Main Street.

  • At is used to show the location of events. For example:

She and her parents were at the birthday party.

  • At is used to show the location of public places where we get services or treatments. Look:

I am at the dentist’s office.

She is having lunch at the restaurant.

  • At is used to show the location of buildings or institution. For example:

I work at school.

I am at the White House.

Tip

We use at to indicate email addresses. For example:

My email address is 'adarvi@gmail.com'

It is read 'adarvi at gmail dot com'

'In' or 'At'

In is also used to show the location of the building. The difference between in and at is that in shows the location inside the building but at does not show we are inside the building. For example:

I'm at the school.

I'm in the school. It is so big.

Position in a Sentence

At as the preposition of place is used before nouns of places. Remember that determiners are often used after the preposition of place at. Remember that the article the is used after the preposition. Look:

She is standing at the crossroad.

My father is at home, I'm going to talk to her.

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