Prepositions are some of the shortest words in English, yet can be the most confusing for non-native speakers. I’ve noticed that Hebrew speakers in particular seem to struggle with how and when to properly use these sneaky little guys.
Here are the more problematic ones:
On is used for days of the week and for specific dates. For example:
My doctor appointment is on Tuesday.
On the 5th of January we are going on vacation.
At is used for specific time. For example:
At what time are you meeting him?
My doctor appointment is on Tuesday at 9:00.
In is used for general time when it is not specific. For example:
We like to take our family vacation in January.
It snows in New York in the winter.
However, without a doubt, the most problematic is since/ago. In Hebrew, לפני
can be used in a variety of places, and is generally a catch-all for talking about things in the past. In English, however, things are never quite that simple. Since is used when describing something that has happened in a period of time after an event. For example:
I have been learning English since 2002
Since when do you smoke?
Since high school, we’ve been best friends.
Ago is separate and distinct from since. It is used to describe how much time has passed after an event. For example:
10 years ago, I visited Israel.
The movie ended one hour ago.