Prepositions: In, On, and 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 Place
In Year, Month,
In 1999, In December
Country, State, City
In Japan, In Utah, InTaipei
On Day, Date
On Saturday, On May 1
Street
On Main Street, On 1st Ave.
At Time
At 8:00, At 7:30
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: In Taipei, Taiwan.

    A: Really? What part of Taipei?

    B: It’s on Chung Shan North Road.

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

    B: It’s at 105 Chung Shan North Road, next to the bookstore.


    C: When is the wedding?

    D: It’s in June.

    C: What day?

    D: It’s on Saturday, the 25th.

    C: What time?

    D: It starts at 6:00.




Prepositions with articles and locations

When talking about locations, use at to indicate the general vicinity or area, 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)

    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 school, prison, and church, the 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.)

    in the school (building)

    in jail/prison (staying there as a criminal)

    in the jail/prison (temporary)

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

    in the church (building)


Where’s Dad?

in church (attending services)

in the church (fixing the windows)

at church

at the church

in prison (He committed a crime.)

at the prison (visiting his friend)

Grammar Exercises

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Comments (2)Add Comment
Preposition 'to'
written by Maliniah Lasius, October 16, 2009
I'd like some clarification of the usage of preposition 'to' and article 'the' in the following sentences.

1. Mother goes to the market.
2. Mother goes to market.

Which sentence is correct, the first or the second one? And if the first sentence is correct, why do we say, "She goes to church" or "She attends school" and not "She goes to the church" and "She attends the school"?
NEED YOUR HELP ON COMMUNICATIVE ENGLISH
written by GIRESH, June 30, 2010
Hi i have been through your website and founf a lot of intresting means of learning and teaching communicative english to school children at villages in india that cant afford expensive faculties. thats where we at I.E.L.M (Institute of english language management has taken a step torward in helping them sharpin their communicative skills. We would be grateful if you could provide us with meterials and information related to communicative english. thanking you and looking forward for an early reply.
yours faithfully,
giresh.k

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