Prepositions of place: in, at & on

Prepositions are one of the most difficult aspects of English grammar because sentences in other languages which use one preposition, can have 3 or 4 different translations in English depending on the context.

Today we are going to look at the prepositions “in”, “on” and “at” and their uses in English to try to understand them better.

When do we use “in”?

The preposition “in” is usually used in circumstances where we are describing one person/object being surrounded by/or enclosed inside something else.


We are in the office.

They are in their car

What about “at”?

On the other hand, the preposition “at” is used with place, but not necessarily with being inside a place, rather than being there in general


I am at university (not necessarily inside)

He is at the train station (he is perhaps on the platform or waiting outside)

We’re missing “on”…

This preposition is used when explaining that something is on top of and touching something underneath it.


The newspaper is on the table (on top of the table and touching it)

The computer the desk (on top of the desk and touching it)

It is also relevant to note that “on” is used with days of the week and with dates too. On the other hand we use “in” if we are referring to months of the year. With time however we use the pronoun “at”

What else should we remember?

We have just covered the main uses for these prepositions as it would be impossible to cover every eventuality. As you learn more, try to memorise each example and the preposition used in each case. If you wish to continue learning about prepositions, remember to sign up to the ABA English course so that you continue to improve your level of English.


One comment

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