Prepositions IN, ON and AT + Exercise

When to use IN, ON or AT. General patterns.


IN: The most common one. If you are not sure, use this one.

ON: On surfaces and days: On the table, on Friday.

AT: For very specific places or time: At the station, at 9.30 am.

IN, ON and AT used as time prepositions.


AT for a very specific time:

- What time? At 10 o'clock, at half past two, at 9.15 am.
- Specific times of the day: At midday, at midnight, at lunchtime.
- At the moment, at the beginning (of the class), at the end (of the book), but in the middle of the class.

ON for days:

- Days of the week: On Fridays, on Mondays and Wednesdays, on Saturday evening.
- Dates: On January 1, on the 25th of September.
- Public holidays: On Christmas Day, on New Year's Eve, on St. Patrick's Day.
- Words finishing in -day: On holidays, on a holiday, on your birthday.

IN for:
- In the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening and (exception!) at night.
- Any long period of time: In May, in 1999, in the 80s, in the 20th century.

IN, ON and AT used as location prepositions.

These are the trickiest situations. Look at the picture below:

IN = inside. ON = on any surface. AT = next to.

ON for surfaces:


- The plates are on the table, on the floor, on the ground.
- Also vertical surfaces: A poster on the wall, a stain on the ceiling/skin/shirt.
- Writing/printing/drawing on a paper/notepad/your hand, a name on a list/exam/contract/menu.
- Media: On TV, on the radio, on the Internet, online, on a website/Facebook/Wikipedia.
- Gadgets: the battery/credit/apps on my phone/laptop computer, music on your CD/mp3 player/iPod.
- Streets/routes: a restaurant on Oxford Street, an accident on the road, I'm on the way home, on a trip.

AT for specific places:

- People sitting/standing next to something: The man at the desk, the woman at reception, the guy at the entrance, at his desk, at the table, at the ticket office/ticket window.
- Meet/wait at a place: I'll wait for you at the exit of the station, let's meet at Tony's.
- Frequently visited places: At home, at work, at school/University.
- Someone's house: At my place, at my parent's house, at the baker's/butcher's/greengrocer's, at Pepe's restaurant.
- Addresses: The Prime minister lives at 10 Downing Street, send me an email at robert@whatevermail.com.
- Events: At a party/concert/meeting/conference.
- Venues: An exhibition at the art gallery, a football match at the Olympic Stadium, a lecture at the Conference Hall.
- Specific points along a route: get off at the next stop/station, take the exit at km 55.
- Measurements: At this price, at that altitude, at a certain rate.


Exercise on preposition IN, ON and AT


Check the right answers below.

Can we meet _____ lunchtime?
I prefer studying _____ night.
She carries lots of things _____ her bag.
I'll grab some food _____ my way home.
They won the National Cup _____ 2011.
The Japanese sit down _____ the floor to eat.
Tell your son not to draw _____ the walls.
She has a strange scar _____ her arm.
Write it down _____ your agenda.
He must be studying _____ his room.
I don't usually work _____ Saturdays.
Put all the dirty dishes _____ the tray.
Where are the pans and pots _____ this kitchen?
The train departs _____ 8 o'clock _____ the evening.
I am working full time _____ the moment.
You will find many notes _____ the end of the book.
My desk is right _____ the middle of the office.
In Britain, there is a kettle _____ every house.
I don't have time to go and have lunch _____ home.
I have an appointment with the doctor _____ Tuesday morning.
It's cheaper to go on holidays _____ June or September.
The child was born _____ the 24th of January.
All my family gets together _____ Christmas Day.
I will be _____ holidays till September.
Make sure all the details _____ the application are correct.
Is there any interesting show _____ TV tonight?
All my important files are saved _____ this folder.
We have found a copy of the book _____ Amazon.com.
I think I don't have your number _____ my phone.
You can go out and have your meal _____ the grass.
There used to be more benches _____ the streets.
There are lots of bikes and channels _____ Amsterdam.
The guard _____ the security gate made me open my luggage.
The lady _____ the information desk couldn't speak any Spanish.
He may be promoted to a managing position _____ the IT department.
Let's meet _____ the statue _____ Main Square.
How do you cope with the nasty weather _____ Britain?
We'll celebrate her birthday _____ her parent's.
Sometimes, I have to stay _____ work till late.
Please send you applications _____ recruitment@randomserver.com.
When I was younger, I preferred working _____ the evening.
Every summer, there's a Performing Arts festival _____ the streets of Edinburgh.
The trade fair will be held _____ the Exhibition Centre _____ April.
That customer always sits _____ the back of the cafe and works _____ her computer.
The concert _____ the Opera Hall may be cancel due to the leading singer's health problems.
You have to get off _____ Victoria Station. There take the train to Brighton _____ platform 2.

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Answers to the exercise
 
Can we meet at lunchtime?
I prefer studying at night.
She carries lots of things in her bag.
I'll grab some food on my way home.
They won the National Cup in 2011.
The Japanese sit down on the floor to eat.
Tell your son not to draw on the walls.
She has a strange scar on her arm.
Write it down on your agenda.
He must be studying in his room.
I don't usually work on Saturdays.
Put all the dirty dishes on the tray.
Where are the pans and pots in this kitchen?
The train departs at 8 o'clock in the evening.
I am working full time at the moment.
You will find many notes at the end of the book.
My desk is right in the middle of the office.
In Britain, there is a kettle in every house.
I don't have time to go and have lunch at home.
I have an appointment with the doctor on Tuesday morning.
It's cheaper to go on holidays in June or September.
The child was born on the 24th of January.
All my family gets together on Christmas Day.
I will be on holidays till September.
Make sure all the details in the application are correct.
Is there any interesting show on TV tonight?
All my important files are saved in this folder.
We have found a copy of the book on Amazon.com.
I think I don't have your number on my phone.
You can go out and have your meal on the grass.
There used to be more benches on the streets.
There are lots of bikes and channels in Amsterdam.
The guard at the security gate made me open my luggage.
The lady at the information desk couldn't speak any Spanish.
He may be promoted to a managing position in the IT department.
Let's meet at the statue on Main Square.
How do you cope with the nasty weather in Britain?
We'll celebrate her birthday at her parent's.
Sometimes, I have to stay at work till late.
Please send you applications at recruitment@randomserver.com.
When I was younger, I preferred working in the evening.
Every summer, there's a Performing Arts festival in the streets of Edinburgh.
The trade fair will be held at the Exhibition Centre in April.
That customer always sits at the back of the cafe and works on her computer.
The concert at the Opera Hall may be cancel due to the leading singer's health problems.
You have to get off at Victoria Station. There take the train to Brighton on platform 2.