Prepositions of Place: at, in, on

I’ve seen many ways to help students understand prepositions and I have come to the conclusion that EnglishClub does it the best!

In general, we use:

  • at for a POINT
  • in for an ENCLOSED SPACE
  • on for a SURFACE
at in on
at the corner in the garden on the wall
at the bus stop in London on the ceiling
at the door in France on the door
at the top of the page in a box on the cover
at the end of the road in my pocket on the floor
at the entrance in my wallet on the carpet
at the crossroads in a building on the menu
at the front desk in a car on a page

Look at these examples:

  • Jane is waiting for you at the bus stop.
  • The shop is at the end of the street.
  • My plane stopped at Dubai and Hanoi and arrived in Bangkok two hours late.
  • When will you arrive at the office?
  • Do you work in an office?
  • I have a meeting in New York.
  • Do you live in Japan?
  • Jupiter is in the Solar System.
  • The author’s name is on the cover of the book.
  • There are no prices on this menu.
  • You are standing on my foot.
  • There was a “no smoking” sign on the wall.
  • I live on the 7th floor at 21 Oxford Street in London.

Notice the use of the prepositions of place at, in and on in these standard expressions:

at in on
at home in a car on a bus
at work in a taxi on a train
at school in a helicopter on a plane
at university in a boat on a ship
at college in a lift (elevator) on a bicycle, on a motorbike
at the top in the newspaper on a horse, on an elephant
at the bottom in the sky on the radio, on television
at the side in a row on the left, on the right
at reception in Oxford Street on the way


3 replies
  1. David Tejada
    David Tejada says:

    Can we sometimes use “at” or “in/on” interchangeably?

    Here are two phrases from a book I’m reading where “at the farm” and “on the farm” are used pretty much to express the same meaning:

    “Darla had built this bicycle-powered gristmill not long after we arrived at the farm.”

    “Everyone but Aunt Caroline and I had celebrated a birthday since I arrived on the farm.”

    • Jessica
      Jessica says:

      Sure, but there is more to this one than meets the eye. “On the farm” is a common phrase. It ‘just goes together’, a collocation if you will 😉 You don’t say, “Animals on the zoo”… you say, “Animals in the zoo”.

      • David Tejada
        David Tejada says:

        Yes, I knew that “on the farm” is an exception to the rule that we have to use “in” for enclosed spaces. Like I read the other day on Quora: “The only rule without exceptions in English is that there are no rules without exceptions”


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