Use of prepositions: at, in, on

Simple prepositions in English in practice. Exercise

Simple prepositions in English in practice

What are prepositions?

Prepositions are parts of speech that indicate the relationship between nouns, pronouns, phrases, or sentences and other elements in the sentence. They provide additional information about time, place, direction, manner, and other aspects. For example, in the sentence “The book is on the table”, “on” indicates the location of the book.

Types of prepositions in English

In English, there are several types of prepositions, including simple, complex, double, and compound-complex prepositions. Simple prepositions, such as “in”, “on”, “at”, are used independently. Complex prepositions consist of multiple words, such as “next to”. Double prepositions, which include a combination of a simple preposition and an adverb, for example “up in”, are used to express complex relationships. Compound-complex prepositions, which have a combination of a simple preposition, a preposition, and an adverb, for example “in front of”, expand the range of possible usage options.

Prepositions: at, in, on

AT

  • Use “at” for specific times:
    • “I will meet you at 3 pm.”
    • “The show starts at noon.”
  • Use “at” for addresses and locations referring to a point:
    • “He lives at 24 Oak Street.”
    • “Let’s meet at the corner of Main St and 1st Ave.”
  • Use “at” for events or temporary activities happening at locations:
    • “There was a concert at the park.”
    • “I saw a play at the theater.”

IN

  • Use “in” for periods of time without specifying an exact point:
    • “I was born in 1992.” (year)
    • “She’ll visit in July.” (month)
    • “It happened in the morning.” (part of day)
  • Use “in” for enclosed spaces:
    • “He’s in the kitchen.”
    • “The cat is in the box.”
  • Use “in” for locations perceived as enclosed areas:
    • “They live in Seattle.” (city)
    • “We’re stuck in traffic.”

ON

  • Use “on” for surfaces:
    • “Put the book on the table.”
    • “There’s a stain on the carpet.”
  • Use “on” for days and dates:
    • “Let’s meet on Monday.”
    • “Her birthday is on May 15th.”
  • Use “on” for streets, representing a linear surface:
    • “The shop is on Main Street.”
    • “We’re driving on the highway.”
  • Use “on” for modes of transportation:
    • “She arrived on the train.”
    • “We’re going on a cruise.”

The main difference is that “at” is used for exact time/place, “in” for time periods and enclosed areas, and “on” for surfaces, days/dates, and modes of transportation.

Table of simple basic prepositions with rules

PrepositionCommon UsageUsage RulesExample
inin the room, in July, in the morningUsed for enclosed spaces or periods of time.She is in the house.
Also used with months, years, and seasons.I was born in July.
onon the desk, on Monday, on the 10th of MayUsed for surfaces or specific days.The book is on the table.
Also used with days of the week and dates.We’ll meet on Monday.
atat the door, at noon, at the partyUsed for specific points or times.She arrived at 3 o’clock.
Also used for specific places or events.We met at the cafe.
byby my side, by Friday, by carShows proximity or a means of action.She stood by the window.
Shows a deadline or means of transportation.The project must be done by Friday.
forfor you, for a week, for the partyUsed to indicate a purpose or duration.She bought flowers for her mother.
Also used to indicate a recipient.This gift is for you.
toto the store, to her friend, to schoolShows direction or movement toward something.They walked to the park.
Used with verbs to indicate a recipient or goals.She gave the book to her friend.
fromfrom the airport, from my friend, from homeShows a starting point or origin.He came from Spain.
Used to show a source or cause.The letter is from my boss.
withwith my family, with a pen, with pleasure Shows association or accompaniment.She went shopping with her sister.
Used to indicate use of something or togetherness.I made a cake with chocolate.
offriend of mine, part of the plan, top of the mountainUsed to show possession, origin or belonging.A friend of mine called me.
 Also used to indicate a component or location.The top of the mountain was covered in snow.

An exercise for learning simple prepositions

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Simple prepositions in English in practice. Exercise

Practice. Prepositions quiz (test)

Where is your mother? Is she _____ the hairdresser’s again?

Some people try to find friends _____ the Internet.

There was a knock _____ the door.

He was born _____ 1955.

I last saw her _____ the car park.

She opened her mouth so the doctor could look _____ her throat.

We didn’t laugh _____ his joke.

What’s _____ television this evening?

We’ll go _____ Rio _____ June.

I called you _____ seven o’clock yesterday.

I am _____ the mobile phone.

She arrived _____ Friday.

You’d better go _____ the next plane to London.

He lived with Nomads _____ the Sahara desert for two years.

I saw an accident _____ my way home.

I won’t stay _____ bed; I’ll just lie down _____ the bed for an hour.

She said hello _____ everyone except me.

I was born _____ September 9th.

We stopped for three-quarters of an hour _____ New York Airport.

Today’s the third _____ April.

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