Prepositions of Time and Place: At, On, and In


Understanding Prepositions of Time and Place - In On At


How to Use the Preposition 'In'

Use "in" with cities, regions, counties, states, and countries

I live in Portland which is a city in Oregon.

She works in Seattle which is in King County


Use "in" with spaces that you can physically walk into, or place something into. These could be inside or buildings or outside as well.

in a room / in a building (indoors)

in a garden / in a park (outdoors)


Examples:

Let's meet in the gym after class. 

I'm going to see Tom in that building over there.

I enjoy walking in the garden at dusk.

She's out jogging with her friends in the park

Use "in" with bodies of water:

in the water

in the sea / river / lake / pond / ocean


Examples:

That duck is swimming in the water

You can see the fish in the water.

Unfortunately, there's a lot of pollution in this sea.

How many fishing lines can you see in the river?

Use "in" with lines:

in a row / line / queue 


Examples:

There are so many people standing in that queue

Please stand in a row and let me count you.

You'll have to stand in that line over there. 


How to Use the Preposition 'At'

Use "at" with places in a town, city or other community:

at the bus-stop / movies / shopping mall / park / museum / etc. 


Examples:

I'll meet you at the bus stop.

I saw Peter at the movies last night.

I was at the shopping mall and decided I had to buy this sweater. 

Let's see the exhibit at the museum

Use "at" with places on a page:

at the top / bottom of the page


Examples

You'll find the page number at the top of the page

Make sure to read the notes at the bottom of the page

Use "at" with places within a room or large space:

at the back / front of the class / room / stadium 


Examples

I think you'll find him at the front of the class.

They're seated at the back of the bus


How to Use the Preposition 'On'

Use "on" with vertical or horizontal surfaces that you can lay something onto, or attach something to:

on the ceiling / wall / floor / table / etc. 


Examples

I left the magazine on that table. Isn't that a beautiful painting on the wall?You have such lovely candles on the mantelpiece

Use "on" with islands:

I stayed on Maui.

Have you seen the volcano on the smaller island?

Use "on" with directions:

on the left / on the right / straight on


Examples

Take the next turn on the left.

His house is on the right.

Drive straight on to the stop light

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