Using 'In', 'On', or 'At' with 'Morning', 'Afternoon', 'Evening' and 'Night' | Mastering Grammar

(Last Updated: 13 May 2024)

Understanding Prepositions: In, On, or At with Morning, Afternoon, Evening, and Night

One of the trickiest aspects of learning English is understanding the correct use of prepositions—those little words that denote direction, location, or time. In this blog post, we will focus on the prepositions used with morning, afternoon, evening, and night: in, on, and at.

General Time Periods: In the Morning/Afternoon/Evening, at Night

Generally speaking, we say in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening, and at night. Note that these phases refer to general time periods:

I prefer having a cup of coffee in the morning.

She often feels sleepy in the afternoon.

He enjoys reading in the evening.

✅ The city is particularly beautiful at night.

Specific Time Periods: On the Morning/Afternoon/Evening/Night Of + Date/Day/Event 

When we want to talk about a specific morning, afternoon, evening, or night, and add a modifier of any kind, we use on:

✅ He has a meeting on Monday morning.
He has a meeting in Monday morning.

My friends and I played basketball on Sunday afternoon.
My friends and I played basketball
 in Sunday afternoon.

I'm looking forward to the party on Friday evening.
I'm looking forward to the party in Friday evening.

✅ They arrived in Hong Kong on Wednesday night.
They arrived in Hong Kong at Wednesday night.

✅ On the morning of the wedding, the bride and groom felt a mixture of excitement and nerves.
In the morning of the wedding, the bride and groom felt a mixture of excitement and nerves.

✅ The two football teams played a friendly match on the afternoon of 1 January.
The two football teams played a friendly match in the afternoon of 1 January.

✅ She received the good news on the evening of her graduation day.
She received the good news in the evening of her graduation day.

The power cut happened on the night of 25 December.
The power cut happened in the night of 25 December.

Source: Oxford Learner's Grammar: Grammar Finder

Source: Oxford Learner's Grammar: Grammar Finder

Source: Cambridge Dictionary

In summary, we say in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening, and at night, but we use the preposition on when specifying a particular morning, afternoon, evening, or night.

Just like anything else in language learning, mastery comes with practice. Don't be afraid to make mistakes, and over time, using these prepositions correctly will become second nature.

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Examples from the Media

"Having access to bright light in the morning is the best way to help train your circadian cycle," said Dr. Fenn, who has spent many dark mornings running on New York streets training for marathons. —The New York Times (2023)

The juxtaposition between the rallies at Nathan Phillips Square in the afternoon and Mel Lastman Square in the evening was quite shocking. Toronto Sun (2023)

Now scientists have found evidence that consistent short sleep at night can be a precursor to developing depressive symptoms. The Guardian (2023)

Mayor-elect Olivia Chow arrives at Nathan Phillips Square leading a peloton of supporters on bicycles on the morning of her swearing in as mayor in Toronto. Toronto Star (2023)

The court heard the couple had spent several hours at the The White Hart pub in Basingstoke on the afternoon of Saturday 6 January 2022. —Daily Mail (2023)

There is a new tradition forming on the evening of January 25 as we gather to reflect on the Indigenous history of this country. —The Sydney Morning Herald (2022)

The Mad Gasser first came to notice on the night of Sept. 1, 1944, when an elderly woman, who prefers anonymity and whom I'll call Mrs. Jones, reported to her local police station in Mattoon, Ill., that someone had pumped into her bedroom a sweet-smalling [sic] gas that made her ill and temporarily paralyzed her legs; Mrs. Jones' daughter was also in the house, but reported no symptoms. —The Washington Post (1979)


Choose the correct preposition to complete each sentence.

1. It can get very cold in the desert in/on/at night.

2. I remember seeing that man in/on/at the night of the robbery.

3. We went to a concert in/on/at Friday night.

4. She likes to read in/on/at night before bed.

5. The family gathered in the garden in/on/at the afternoon of her birthday for a surprise party.

6. I usually go to the gym in/on/at the afternoon.

7. My brother always goes jogging in/on/at the morning.

8. In/On/At Sunday morning, my family and I took a leisurely stroll through the park.

9. The flowers were delivered in/on/at the morning of the wedding.

10. Over 500 people attended the conference in/on/at the evening of 7 January 2024.

11. It's usual for me to work in/on/at the evening.

12. More than 100 flood warnings remained in force in/on/at Wednesday evening.

13. The theft occurred in/on/at the evening of 11 November.

Answer Key

1. at    2. on    3. on    4. at    5. on    6. in    7. in    8. On    9. on    10. on    11. in    12. on    13. on

Real-World Examples of Misuse

On the morning of + [specific day/date] is the standard and correct way to refer to something that happened during the morning of a specific day/date.
(Source: St. Paul's Co-educational College Primary School)
(Also by the Same School: 1/2/3)

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