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Is It Correct to Say “In The Weekend”?

When seeking to inform someone of an event occurring in the concluding days of the week, the saying “in the weekend” may come to mind. In this article, we will explain the correct terminology related to this phrase.

It is incorrect to say “in the weekend,” as American English speakers do not use “in” to refer to a block of time. We more commonly use “during,” “for,” and occasionally “on.” American English speakers typically use “during” or “for,” and British English speakers prefer “at.” For example, “What will you do for the weekend?”

This article will help you understand why we consider “in the weekend” linguistically inappropriate.

How Do You Use “In The Weekend”?

You should not use “in the weekend” alone as it serves as a phrase, not a sentence. Replace the preposition “in” with the more suitable prepositions “over” or “during” to make it grammatically correct. Otherwise, add a noun to the end of the phrase so that “weekend” becomes an adjective.

We use the word “in” as a preposition, “the” as a definite article, and “weekend” as a noun. We regard this pattern as a prepositional phrase; it does not contain the necessary components of a complete sentence. However, we typically pair prepositional phrases with other bits of speech to convey a thought. 

Many people use a more proper variation of “in the weekend” to speak of events past, present, or future happening during the weekend. While you should not use “in the weekend,” multiple other prepositions can make the statement faultless. They are: 

  • What do you plan on doing during the weekend?
  • What do you plan on doing over the weekend?
  • What do you plan on doing for the weekend?

The prepositions “during” and “over” ensure flow and meaning much more than “in” the weekend. British English speakers will use “at the weekend” (source).

We consider using “in the weekend” appropriate if the word “weekend” serves as an adjective (dark blue) to a noun (dark green). An example is:

  • Reports say there will be new rules in the weekend activities.

Why Don’t Americans Say “In The Weekend” Alone?

We find the preposition “in” inaccurate because we do not use “in the weekend” to describe something happening literally “inside” of the weekend. However, Americans consider “the weekend” a “time block” instead of a “time span.”

Usually, “in” refers to space or time. “The weekend” is obviously not space, but it is time. If “the weekend” meant a time span or period, then “in” would be appropriate. But it refers to a block of time between Friday evening and Monday morning. You can put events “on” a block of time, but you cannot put them “in.”

Americans tend to refer to passing or progressing time with “during” or “over.” They will use “on” when referring to a specific date or general times:

  • On Saturday
  • On the third weekend of next month
  • On weekends

However, you cannot use “on the weekend” to describe plans:

  • Incorrect: What will you do on the weekend?
  • Correct: What will you do on the weekend of the 14th?
  • Correct: What do you do on weekends?

We find the phrase “next weekend” a viable alternative to “in the weekend.” The first word may appear as “next,” “last,” “past,” “this,” or “this coming,” catering to the time period. This changes the phrase’s meaning to act as a more time-specific term. 

When Can You Use “In The Weekend”?

When we add a noun after “in the weekend,” we consider the phrase correct. However, you should note that “in the weekend” is incorrect on its own because you cannot be literally inside of the weekend. With a suitable alternative for “in,” you will correct the phrase.

The primary use of “in the weekend” as a prepositional phrase in American English is when “weekend” serves as an adjective (dark blue) for a noun object (dark green) after it. You can use this form in formal or informal contexts.

  • Greg broke his ankle in the weekend games last month.
  • The firefighters will play a role in the weekend festivities.

However, in British English, speakers will use “at,” though the rest of the phrase remains the same. We consider it improper to use “at the weekend” in American English.

Using “In The Weekend” in a Full Sentence

Using “in the weekend” in a full sentence requires a noun object after it. Otherwise, “in the weekend” is an incorrect prepositional phrase in American English. You must swap out the preposition for one that best captures your message.

Using “in the weekend” appropriately can help you convey activities happening during the days following the end of the work week to others. The weekend in this context can refer to the past or future.

  • What chores did you do in the weekend cleaning?
  • What chores will you do in the weekend cleaning?

When speaking to someone and using the more suitable expression “on the weekend” without a noun after it, context will dictate verb tense according to the weekend date.

  • Will you go surfing with me on the weekend of the 16th?

Prepositional synonyms of “in the weekend” suit informal and professional contexts. Synonyms for “in the weekend” do not exist in American English, so swap out the preposition for a simple fix.

When Not to Use “In The Weekend”

You should avoid the saying “in the weekend” in American English unless you follow it with a noun object where you use “weekend” as an adjective.

You should never use “in the weekend” as a prepositional phrase without a noun object because Americans do not use “in” to refer to blocks of time. Instead, swap “in” out with another preposition like “during” or “over” to best convey meaning.

  • Are there any assignments I am required to complete during the weekend?
  • What activities are you planning for the weekend?

You should also avoid using “at the weekend” in formal settings, as audiences will find it challenging to make sense of the traditionally British English wording.

Do not use this expression when discussing events happening during the weekdays, weeknights, or some weekend nights. You will find it more appropriate to use phrases such as “during the week,” “on Tuesday night,” or “over Sunday evening.” The weekend applies only to Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday.

If asked, a native English speaker would likely say that “in the weekend” sounds incorrect. Some native English speakers will not know the proper grammar for this phrase but can recognize that it just doesn’t sound right.

“In the weekend” cannot be a proper phrase without an alternate proposition. However, with a proper switch of the preposition “in,” we can use it in casual and formal situations.

What Can You Use Instead of “In The Weekend”?

Swap out the invalid preposition “in” with another preposition for the best way to ensure grammatical soundness.

Setting up your sentence with a specific verb tense can help alter the meaning and direct interpretation to a particular time or place. For example:

  • She swims over the weekend.
  • She swam during the weekend.
  • She will swim throughout the weekend.

These sentences all have the same structure but differ in their timing of events. Even this subtle shift in the words affects the meaning and context of the sentence. 

Notice how each sentence employs a different alternative to our topic phrase as well. Whether you refer to the transition of the weekend using the words “over,” “during,” “throughout,” or “on,” you should always select an alternative to the word “in.” 

Conversely, you may prefer to allude to the weekend by referencing Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. For instance:

  • She swims Friday evenings at the community center.
  • He goes to the gym every Saturday morning.
  • My friend has bingo every Sunday afternoon.
  • I like to go to the grocery store every week on Saturday or Sunday.

Prepositional Phrases

Prepositional phrases consist of a preposition followed by a noun object. We often use prepositional phrases in everyday speech.

Image by Taryn Elliott via Pexels

Some examples include (source):

  • Are you at the beach?
  • I am in the car.
  • Will you fly above the city?
  • Is she between the houses?
  • They were within the sun’s grasp.

The preposition substitutes you use instead of “in” in the phrase “in the weekend” fall into different prepositional categories. Prepositions can fall into many categories, such as manner, direction, space, and more. The prepositions we use as grammatical substitutes are listed in their categories below:

Preposition TypePrepositions
TimeDuring, on, from, until
PlaceOn, behind, over
LocationAt, in, on
DirectionTo, toward, into, across
Spacial RelationshipsAgainst, under, beside
MannerBy, like, with
SourceFrom, by, through, of

As listed above, the majority of correct prepositional substitutes for the word “in” in the phrase “in the weekend” happen to fall into the prepositions of time category. This correlates with the fact that the word “weekend” relates to a period of time in a week.

We widely use prepositional phrases and consider them a staple part of the English language. Prepositional words show relationships between objects, places, and people (source).

We explain the construction of prepositional phrases as “an object followed by a preposition.” Sentences that contain “in the weekend” can often take the form of somewhat short sentences and do not run on or have numerous commas (source).

Final Thoughts

Although alternatives may accurately communicate events that have occurred or that will occur, “in the weekend” remains grammatically incorrect when we use “weekend” as a noun rather than an adjective.

Exchanging the preposition “in” for other prepositions like “during,” “over,” or “for” can communicate many different nuances. In both professional and casual settings, we find this phrase perfect for communicating events happening over the days of the weekend.