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Preposition of place

In, On, At
 
When we are talking about places.
 
At
 
A [[specific]] point or place.
  • This is at the top of the stairs.
  • This is at the bottom at the stairs.
  • The cat is at the window.(window is a specific point or place)
At the door, at the end of the street.
 
An exact address.
 
When we know exact the name of the street, the number of the building.
  • She lives at 23 Burns Street.
We know the number of the building and the name of the street. But if we do not know the exact address street and the number of the building, then we do not use the word at.
  • She lives at Burns Street. 
  • She lives on Burns Street.
  • She lives at 23 Burns Street.
Events:
 
At a party, at a [[conference]], at a meeting, or at a concert , etc.
  • He is at a conference.
  • They are at a party.
  • They are at a concert.
Building where an event happen or an activity takes places.
 
At the cinema, at the library, at the town hall, at the police station, etc.
  • Trish is at the cinema.
When somebody is at somebody’s house.
  • He is at Simon’s house.
  • She lives at her parents’ house.
A stop on a journey.
  • We stopped at a nice village.
  • The train to Nottingham stops at London.
When we are talking about town and cities…
 
Standard expression.
  • I am at school.
  • He is at home.
  • She is at university.
  • They are at work.
  • You are at reception.
  • We are at church.
All of these expressions, we do not use the word the.
  • I am at the school. 

On

When something is on a surface.
 
On the wall, on the ceiling, on the floor, on the blackboard, on the table, on the page, etc.
  • There is some graffiti on the wall.
  • There is a photograph on the wall.
Attached to:
 
If something is attached to something else, we use the word on.
  • She is wearing a ring on her finger.
  • There are three apples on tree.
The coast, rivers, roads:
  • Brighton is a town on the south coast of England.
  • London is on the river Thames.
  • She lives on Burns Street.
Standard expressions:
 
On a farm, on the left, on the right, on the ground flour, on the first floor, on the second floor…
 
In a building, which has several levels, the levels are called floors.
  • Chris lives on the ground floor.
  • Laura lives on the first floor.
  • Simon lives on the second floor.
On the radio.
  • There is a song on the radio.
On television.
  • There is a film on television.
On a ship.
 
There are a few other [[expressions]], but those are the most important ones.

In

We use in for an enclosed space or a large place, which has [[boundaries]] around it.
 
In the bag, in the bedroom, in the forest, in the garden, in the car park, in the desert,etc.
  • The bed is in the bedroom.
  • Willy is playing in the forest.
  • This car is in the car park.
We do not say at the car park or on the car park.
 
Town or cities:
  • He lives in Nottingham .
  • He lives at Nottingham.
  • Andy is in the village.
  • They are in London to visit Tower Bridge.
Standard expressions:
 
In the newspaper,in bed,in hospital, in prison, in the sky, in a photograph, sit in an armchair ( sit on a chair/sit on a stool),in the water /in the sea.
  • Children are playing in the water.
We sit in an armchair, but if it is a normal chair or a stool, we say we sit on a chair or we sit on a stool.
 
So in is an exception for armchair.Notice that some of these, we do not use the word the.
  • We say in bed, in hospital.
  • We do not say in the bed, in the hospital.
  • My father is ill. He is in hospital.
Again, since these are expressions, you must learn them. There is no rule in fact .

 

 

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