Uses of At, On, In – Prepositions of Place in English Grammar

Prepositions are a small set of English words that show the relationship between a noun or pronoun and another term in the sentence. These three prepositions are used mainly to indicate a place, time.

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Prepositions of Place:

AT

It is used to represent the exact point: house, station, village, etc.

Examples:

  • He is standing at the corner of the room/ at the door /at the bus-stop.
  • He lives at 95, Bapuji Nagar.
  • She works at the city Hospital /at the public library.
  • The train arrived at Bhubaneswar (means Bhubaneswar Railway Station)
  • They met / at the party/at the club/at the station.
  • He is at work/ at the doctor’s/at school.
  • ┬áHe is sitting at the table/at a desk.
  • ┬áCandidates have to write their names at the top or at the bottom of the page.

In

It is used to express the idea of being within a larger area; it also refers to a house or residence, when no specific one is mentioned. It is also used for places of work if they are buildings.

Examples:

  • Swati likes to spend the holiday in the country /in a village,
  • Sweta lives in London/ in China.
  • My son works in a bank in an office / in a factory/in a shop.
  • Sita is sitting in the corner of the room.
  • He lives in Bapuji Nagar.
  • Stand in a queue / in a line.
  • He is playing in the school’s playground / He is working in the paddy field.
  • He put the plates in the cupboard.

On:

  1. If the working place is not buildings, ‘on’ is used:
    • He is working on a garden/on a rubber plantation/on a farm
    • The teachers meeting was held on the campus of the school
  2. ” On’ is used to represent close contact:
    • There is a drawing on the notice board on the wall.
    • She is sitting on the grass/on the bench /on a chair (but in an armchair)/on the floor.
    • He kept his books on the shelf
    • He is standing on the balcony
  3. ‘On’ is used to refer proximity, to mean ‘close
    • Suravi is sitting on my left/ on my right.
    • Haridwar is on the Ganges.
    • Cuttack-on-Mahanadi, a village on the frontier, a house on the main road, a town on the coast, trees on both sides of the river.
    • Barsha lives on an Island (you can see water all around)

At

1. It is used with the exact point of time and with the names of festivals.

e.g. He arrived here at three o’clock / half-past ten /at midday /at midnight Vat dawn / / at Christmas / at Easter/ at Holi / at Diwali / at the New Year/at daybreak / at sunrise / at sunset / at dusk / at the weekend

He is in bed at this moment. He was in bed at that moment,

(I)It is used with years, seasons and parts of months and days.

He came here in winter/ in summer / in 2005/ in January in the morning I in the afternoon / in the evening / in the twilight /in the night (but at night).

2. At is used with the Future Time to show the period of completeness

This project will be finished in eight months.

He will arrive in ten minutes

3. at is used for the presentation of a period.

It was done in a day.

It happened in my school days/ in my youth / in my old age.

It is used with specific dates and days

e.g. I saw him on April 15, 2015 / on March 15 / on Thursday / on a Sunday morning / on a winter evening / on a fine morning / on Sita’s birthday! on the occasion of her 25th birthday / on New Year’s Day / on Christmas evening on the Republic Day on the evening of August 15 (but in the evening on August 15) /on that day,

Other Uses

1. In (good) time:

It means ‘earlier than

e.g. Sita reached the airport in time to see her friend off.

Shyam arrived in time to attend the meeting.

2. Prepositions, on, In’ are not used with some adverbials like next morning, last week, last Monday, next Monday, yesterday, tomorrow today, this morning, this week, every morning, and every week.

e.g. Ravi will visit his friend’s house next Saturday (not ‘on next Friday)

3. But we can say – Ravi will visit his friend’s house on Saturday next.sHe saw her friend last Tuesday (she saw her friend on Tuesday last)

He went to Delhi last month (not in last month).

she came to Puri this morning (not in this morning’)

4. Prepositions indicating means of travel

He goes shopping daily by bus /by car/by train / by taxi/bicycle/rickshaw. We can say by air / by water / by sea / by airplane/by water / by boat/by road / by land.

when the article (a the) is used before the means of travel, the preposition ‘on’ or ‘in’ is usually used:

Example

He went to college on his/a/ the bicycle on the/ on the train on the rickshaw on the motorbike /on horseback/ on foot.

He went to Jaipur on the / plane / on a ship.

But for boats and cars ‘in’ is generally preferred.

He went to Bhubaneswar in a vehicle.

5.Modes of Communication

Rasmi sent the letter by post / by cable/by telegram/by telephone / by hand/by letter / by radio/by rail .

Sita talked to her friend by telephone. But we say – Sita talked about this on/over the telephone. Ravi is watching the news on television.

He heard an interesting programme on the radio.

6. Mode of payment

He paid the bill by credit card /by cheque / but in cash.

7. Prepositions of instrument

We used With as followers

she wrote the letter with a pen/ with a pencil

She cut the apple with a knife.

Swami saw the accident with his own eyes

Ram is walking with a stick. Biswa took something with both hands.

But we use” in “the following case

The paper was written in ink / in pencil.

8. Prepositions of agency, means, instrumentality The temple was designed by Rabl. (agency)

He makes a living by teaching. (means)

He was killed by lightning. (instrumentality)

Idiomatic Uses of the Preposition

At

at play,at work,at heart,at breakfast/lunch,at dinner,at table (having a meal),at home,at will,at ease,at last,at length,at hand,at random,at rest,at once (immediately)

In

in need,in a hurry,in debt,in danger,in fun,in particular,in trouble,in general,in due course,in short,in brief,in a word,in work (having a job),in the end,in use

On

on fire,on holiday,on foot/ on horseback,on sale,on purpose,on (an/the) average,on duty / guard,off duty,on no account,on the contrary,on the other hand,on leave,on a visit,on picnic,on a journey,on one’s way,on second thoughts

Conclusion

This post is about using three prepositions at, on and in. here you will find the use of preposition with explanation and suitable examples. You also get information about where not to use such prepositions.

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