Prepositions of Place

by Craig Shrives

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Prepositions of Place (At, In, On)

The prepositions "at," "in," and "on" are regularly used in expressions of place. For example:

"At" is used for a precise point.

  • at the bus stop
  • at the front door
  • at the entrance
  • at the reception desk

"On" is used with a surface.

  • on the street
  • on the carpet
  • on the floor
  • on the front cover

"In" is used for an enclosed space.

  • in my pocket
  • in the box
  • in the car
  • in the garden
prepositions of place

Your Go!

It's your go. Select the correct preposition:

More Examples with "At"

"At" is generally used for a precise point:
  • Meet me at the park bench.
  • Sarah works at the club house.
  • Matt saw the owl at the barn.

More Examples with "On"

"On" is generally used with a surface:
  • The printer in on my desk.
  • Please put the candle on the ledge.
  • The drinks are on the counter.

More Examples with "In"

"In" is generally used with for an enclosed space:
  • I am in my room.
  • The mouse is in the box.
  • We are sitting in my car.
These guidelines are quite well-observed. However, there are exceptions, which should be learned as set phrases (or collocations, i.e., words that sound natural when used together).

Set Time Phrases

Here are some set phrases that are not obvious fits for the guidelines presented above.

Set Phrases with "At":

PhraseExample
at homeShe is currently at home.
at schoolJack met Jill at school.
at the bottomThe treasure is at the bottom of the sea.
at the topI'll meet you at the top of the mountain.
at workI hope you do not act like this at work.

Set Phrases with "On":

PhraseExample
on televisionWhat is on television tonight?
on the radioI heard you on the radio yesterday.
on the left/rightThe bank is the first building on the left.
"On" is also used with modes of transport, but not cars and lorries (these are treated as "enclosed spaces" that we in):
PhraseExample
on a bikeChrist on a bike! You did what?
on a busThe dog was found on a bus.
on a horseYou look confident on a horse.
on a planeIt is a film about deadly snakes on a plane.
on a shipHer father worked on a ship for forty years.
on a trainWe should travel on a train next time.

Set Phrases with "In":

PhraseExample
in a rowI rolled three sixes in a row.
in the newspaperDon't believe anything you read in the newspaper.
in the skyThere was a double rainbow in the sky.
"In" is also used with locations:
PhraseExample
in FranceI was lost in France.
in LondonIt is too expensive to live in London.
in FloridaMy aunties all worked in Florida during the 1980s.

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See Also

Prepositions of time Prepositions Prepositions for kids Adjectives for kids Adverbs for kids Conjunctions for kids Nouns for kids Pronouns for kids Interjections for kids Verbs for kids

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