Prepositions IN, ON and AT


Exercise on the prepositions in, on and at

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


IN: The most common choice. 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.

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