Why do we say 'in the week' when referring to a weekday Monday to Friday and 'on the weekend' referring to Saturday and Sunday?

E.g. 'you're so lazy on the weekend' vs 'you're so busy in the week'. But you can't change the on or in around. Why would the grammar for these two sentences be different?

  • 1
    I don't say "on the weekend" to refer to weekends generally but "at the weekend." The usage of prepositions is... mysterious? I might say "On the weekend of 4/5th April there was..." May 8, 2020 at 18:51
  • I feel like weekends really should be "'over' the weekends".
    – Isa
    May 8, 2020 at 19:57
  • Ngram shows 'at the weekend' to be common in the UK but unusual in the US. 'On the weekend' is preferred in the US. Brits usually only use 'on' in expressions like 'I'll be on the weekend flight' and 'they said so on the weekend weather forecast'. 'You're so lazy at weekends' is what I would say. May 9, 2020 at 3:04

1 Answer 1


The usual phrase for the weekdays excluding the weekend is "during the work week" or just "during the week", not "in the week". "In the week" could mean all the days of the week, as for example in,
"There are seven days in the week."

Another way to refer to those days is as "weekday" or "weekdays":
Merriam-Webster "weekday"
"any day of the week except Sunday, or now usually except Saturday and Sunday"

For "during the week" you can say "on weekdays". That will be understood to exclude the weekend.

There are several idiomatic phrases used with the weekend:

on the weekend
at the weekend
during the weekend
over the weekend

The larger number of phrases for that time may be because the weekend is a special part of the week, and is often the focus of attention.

I think "grammar" refers to patterns of use that are general over a lot of expressions. I don't think these are grammar differences, just customary expressions.

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