How to Use Prepositions of Time and Place: AT, IN & ON

'At', 'In' and 'On' are commonly confused because they are used in similar situations - mostly to demonstrate time and place.


This lesson will help you to identify the different uses of  these prepositions, and to use them correctly.

1. Prepositions of Time: AT - IN - ON

'IN' is used with...

Parts of the day:

  • in the morning
  • in the afternoon
  • in the evening

Months:

  • in      January
  • in      Febuary
  • in      December

Seasons:

  • in      (the) spring
  • in      (the) summer
  • in      (the) fall/ autumn
  • in      (the) winter

Years:

  • in      1980
  • in      1968

Decades:

  • in the 1960s
  • in the seventies

Centuries:

  • in the 15th century
  • in the 21st century

Weeks:

  • in a week
  • in 2 weeks

Holidays:

  • in the Easter holiday
  • in the Christmas holiday

Period of time:

  • in the past
  • in the next century
  • in the future
  • in the 10 years time
  • in the middle ages
  • in a few minutes
  • in a moment
  • in an hour
  • in 3 hours
  • in six months
  • in a year


'ON' is used with...

Days:

  • On Monday
  • On Thursday
  • On Sunday

Dates:

  • on April 3rd
  • on 1st January 2013
  • on the 10th
  • on the first day
  • on the last day

Holidays with ‘day’:

  • on New Year's day
  • on Christmas day
  • on Easter day

Specific days:

  • on my birthday
  • on holiday
  • on my wedding day
  • on that day

Day + Part of day:

  • on Sunday morning(s)
  • on Friday afternoon(s)
  • on Monday evening(s)

On + time:

  • on the weekend (U.S.)
  • on weekdays
  • on time
  • on a summer evening
  • on a cold day
  • on my lunch break

'AT' is used with ...

Hours:

  • at 7 am
  • at 12 o'clock
  • at 5 pm

Parts of the day:

  • at night
  • at noon/ midday
  • at midnight
  • at bedtime
  • at lunch time
  • at dinner time
  • at dinner 
  • at lunch 
  • at sunrise/sunset
  • at dawn

Holidays without "day":

  • at Easter
  • at Christmas
  • at New Year

At + time:

  • at present
  • at the weekend (U.K)
  • at breakfast
  • at the moment
  • at this moment
  • at the same time
  • at that time

2. Prepositions of Place: AT - IN - ON

'IN' is used with ...

Countries:

  • in England

Cities:

  • in London

Neighborhood:

  • in Manhattan
  • in Chinatown

Enclosed space:

  • in a traffic jam
  • in Time Square
  • in a building
  • in a car
  • in a taxi
  • in a boat
  • in a helicopter
  • in a lift (elevator)
  • in the living - room
  • in the article

...

'ON' is used with ...

Means of transport:

  • on a bus
  • on a train
  • on a plane
  • on a ship
  • on a bicycle/ motorcycle
  • on a horse

Communications:

  • on the radio
  • on the television
  • on the phone
  • on the Internet

Surfaces:

  • on a table
  • on a wall
  • on the floor
  • on the roof
  • on the menu
  • on the page
  • on the door
  • on the shelf
  • on the second floor

Avenues:

  • on The Seventh Avenue

Streets:

  • on Oxford street
  • on Columbus street

'AT' is used with ...

Addresses:

  • 734 State Street
  • 292 Oxford Street

Specific Locations/ Points:

  • at The Empire State Building
  • at the corner
  • at the bus stop
  • at the door
  • at the top of page
  • at the end of the road
  • at the entrance
  • at the crossroads
  • at the front desk
  • at a conference
  • at a party
  • at a concert
  • at someone's house
  • at the doctor's/ hairdresser's
  • at the bus stop
  • at the end of road
  • at the crossroads
  • at the front
  • at the back
  • at the top
  • at the bottom
  • at the door

3. Prepositional Phrases with In, On, At

at the end: a time period             

  • at the end of the day

in the end: after all, ultimately

  • They will surely succeed in the end.

in time: before the given time

  • The school starts at 9:30. She 'll be in time for the start of class.

on time: at exactly given time

  • The meeting starts at 3 o'clock. They are here on time.

in common: If two or more things have something in common, they have the same characteristic of feature.     

  • Jane and I have nothing in common.

in general: as a whole, without giving details

  • In general, the standard of your work is very high.

in love: inspired by affection

  • Peter had fallen in love with that girl.

in touch: in a state which people communicate with each other especially by calling or writing to each other.

  • We kept in touch after college.

in danger: in the situation in which something bad or harmful is possible               

  • We're all in danger of losing our jobs.

in doubt: in a state of being uncertain or unsure               

The outcome was in doubt until the final seconds of the game.

in other words: used to introduce a statement that repeats what has been said in a different and usually a simpler or more exact way.

  • She said the movie was a bit predictable. In other words, she didn't like it.

in fact: in truth

  • He looks younger, but in fact, he is 60 years old.

in debt: having debts

  • I am in debt to the bank for my car loan.

in vain: to no end, without success or result

  • Her efforts were in vain.

in any case: without regard to or in spite of other considerations: Whatever else is done or is the case 

  • In any case the report will be made public next month.

in case: as a precaution 

  • Took an umbrella, just in case.

in case of: in the event of

  • In case of trouble, yell.

in advance: before a particular time, or before doing a particular thing

  • If you're going to come, please let me know in advance.

in conclusion: used to introduce the final comments at the end of a speech or a piece of writing

  • In conclusion, I would like to thank you for inviting me to speak tonight.

at least: as much as, or more than, a number or amount               

  • It will cost at least $100.

at least: used to reduce the effect of an statement

  • I've met the president - at least, he shook my hand once.

at once: immediately

  • You have to call him at once.

at once: at the same time

  • Everything happened at once - she graduated, got a job, and got married, all in June!

by accident: without intending to, or without being intended

  • I found her letter by accident as I was looking through my files.

by force: using physical power

  • He took the purse from her by force.

by mistake: by accident

  • I've paid this bill twice by mistake.

by order of: according to directions given by the proper authority.

  • The road was closed all day by order of the police.

by request: by asking for something usually in a formal way.

  • Catalogs are available by request.

by sight: on the basic of one's look

  • I know her by sight but not by name.

by nature: used when describing someone's character, job, etc.               

  • She is, by nature, a sunny, positive kind of person.

for lack of: not having (the thing specified)

  • For lack of anything better to do, we went to the park.

for sure: certain or certainly

  • One thing's for sure - once the baby's born, your lives will never be the same again.

for hire: available for use or service in return for payment

  • They have boats for hire.

for fear of: Because you are worried that a particular thing might happen.

  • I didn't want to move for fear of waking her up.

for life: for the whole of a person's life

  • I believe marriage is for life

for the good of: in order to help (someone or something)

  • She did it for the good of the community.

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How to Use Prepositions of Time and Place: AT, IN & ON

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