Prepositions: In, On, At

Prepositions: In, On, and At (with specific times and places)

The prepositions in, on, and at can be used to indicate time and place. Notice how they are used in the following situations:

Preposition

Time

Example

In

Year, Month,

In 1999, In December

On

Day, Date

On Saturday, On May 1

At

Time

At 8:00, At 7:30

Preposition

Place

Example

In

Country, State, City

In Japan, In Utah, InTaipei

On

Street

On Main Street, On 1st Ave.

At

Address

At 815 East Main Street

 

In many languages, there is only one preposition for the above situations.  In English there are three.

Just remember that in usually indicates the "largest" time or place, and at usually indicates the "smallest" time or place.

Examples:

A: Where's your office?

B:InTaipei, Taiwan.

A: Really? What part of Taipei?

B: It'sonChung Shan North Road.

A: I know that area. Where exactly is it?

B: It'sat105 Chung Shan North Road, next to the bookstore.

 

C: When is the wedding?

D: It'sinJune.

C: What day?

D: It'sonSaturday, the 25th.

C: What time?

D: It startsat6:00.

 

Prepositions with articles and locations

Use at to indicate a particular location or site, and in to indicate inside the building, enclosed area, etc. For example:

at the swimming pool (on site)

in the swimming pool (in the pool itself i.e. in the water)

at the post office/bank (general site)

in the post office/bank (inside the building)

at the zoo (visitors, general area)

in the zoo (animals in their cages)

at school

in the classroom

 

Sample sentences:

I met my wife at the theater. (while watching a movie)

I spilled my drink in the theater (on the floor of the building)

She works at the library on Wednesdays.

She found a rare coin in the library (building).

Dr. Jones works at the hospital every day.

John was in the hospital for a week with a broken leg.

 

For schoolprison, and churchthe is used to indicate the building. "No article" indicates the general situation. Note the following:

 

"practice"/situation

building

in school (studying, listening to teacher, etc.)

intheschool (building)

in jail/prison (staying there as a criminal)

inthejail/prison (temporary)

in church (praying, listening to a sermon, etc.)

inthechurch (building)

 

Sample question and responses

 

Where's your dad?

 

at church (attending services)

at the church (fixing the windows)

in prison (He committed a crime.)

at the prison (visiting his friend)

 

Similar phrases

 

Hank is in class right now (listening to a lecture).

Hank is in the classroom, waiting for the
teacher.

Mrs. Fox is in hospital. (British English)

Mrs. Fox is in the hospital. (American
English)

 

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