Tricky Prepositions Part 1
At, in and on
It is difficult to learn rules for at, in and on because there are so many exceptions, but here are some guidelines to help you.
We use at to refer to a place or an event:
- I am at the bank. (Place)
- She is at the doctor’s. (Place)
- He is sitting at his desk. (Place)
- The train will stop at the next station. (Place)
- I will be at home when you call. (Place)
- She is at her parents’ house. (Place)
- I work at XYZ (Place)
- I met her at a party. (Event)
- We won’t have a stand at the trade fair this year. (Event)
In can mean “inside” “within” or “into”:
- I am in the bank at the moment. (Inside the bank)
- We are in the meeting room. (Inside the meeting room)
- My sister lives in London. (Within the borders of London)
- I read it in the report. (Within the report)
- I can see it in the picture. (Within the picture)
- Please get in the car. (Into the car)
Here are some other examples of in:
- I like living in the countryside.
- I like walking in the rain.
- The children are playing in the street.
On can mean “on top of”:
- The book is on her desk. (Compare with: She is sitting at her desk)
We use on for certain media:
- I saw it on television. (Also for specific programmes e.g. I saw it on the news)
- I read it on the Internet.
- I heard it on the radio.
Here are some other examples where we use on:
- The station is on the left.
- The picture is hanging on the wall.
- You can see it on the screen.
- His office is on the 24th floor.
We use at with specific times, festive seasons and points in time:
- The meeting is at 9:00 am. (Specific time)
- I’m having lunch at midday. (Specific time)
- I’m visiting her at Easter. (Festive season)
- At the time she was still working at XYZ. (Point in time)
- I’m going there at the weekend. (UK) (Point in time)
- It’s very quiet at night. (Point in time) (Compare with: In the morning, in the afternoon, In the evening)
We use in with months, years, seasons and parts of the day:
- She started in January. (Month)
- The company was founded in 1993. (Year)
- We’ll hold the party in the summer. (Season)
- Let’s hold the meeting in the afternoon. (Part of the day) (Compare with: At night)
We use on with days and dates:
- The meeting is on Monday. (Day)
- I’m going there on the weekend. (USA) (Days)
- I’ll call her on her birthday. (Day)
- Her birthday is on 25 September. (Date)