on the weekend or at the weekend?

Some English speakers say “on the weekend“, others say “at the weekend“. People from different countries sometimes use different words.

In the USA people often say, “…on the weekend”.
In the UK people often say, “…at the weekend”.

Both are logical. They both make sense, so people are comfortable with whichever they are used to.

The meanings of “on” and “at” both fit and people got into the habit of using different phrases in different places.

Why do both “on the weekend” and “at the weekend” make sense?

“What did you do on the weekend?

The weekend is the days we don’t work (usually Saturday and Sunday). You do things on weekdays (On Monday etc.) and also do things on the weekend. We can think of the weekend as days. Americans will tend to use “on”, just as they would when they are talking about days of the week.

on the weekend chart: showing why it makes sense.

“What did you do at the weekend?

A week has a start and an end. So,the weekend is the time around the end. We can think more about what part of the week. British people will tend to use “at”, as they would when talking about the end of anything else, such as “at the end of the day”.

at the weekend chart: showing why it makes sense.

In what countries do people usually say “on the weekend”?
In what countries do people usually say “at the weekend”?

graph showing the countries people use "on the weekend" and "at the weekend"

According to the Word Global Web-Based English Corpus (GloWbE):

“On the weekend” is more common in: The USA, Canada, and Australia.
“At the weekend” is more common in: The UK, Ireland, New Zealand, and Africa.

Key Point

There are different words that people use.

  • Sometimes these words have different meanings.
  • Sometimes (like with on the weekend or at the weekend) either way makes sense and people simply use what they are used to.

Thinking about the core meanings of simple words like in, on, and at helps you understand how to use them.

You can “just remember” when to use in, on, and at. But, thinking about the simple meanings of these words can help you understand more. And when you understand the meaning of basic words like this, it is satisfying seeing how all these pieces of the language come together.

People use these words because they are used to them, but words also have meaning.

Looking for a good grammar book?

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If you are interested in a grammar book that looks at common parts of English sentences and what they mean (like -ed, will, have -en/-ed, and  be -ing on this page), be sure to check out Real Grammar.

With Real Grammar you understand grammatical meaning. Grammatical meaning helps you understand more of what people say in English.

Real Grammar is grammar for communication.

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