Prepositions of space… in, at, on

IN

Use ‘in’ with spaces:

* in a room / in a building
* in a garden / in a park

Use ‘in’ with bodies of water:

* in the water
* in the sea
* in a river

Use ‘in’ with lines:

* in a row / in a line
* in a queue

AT

Use ‘at’ with places:

* at the bus-stop
* at the door
* at the cinema
* at the end of the street

Use ‘at’ with places on a page:

* at the top of the page
* at the bottom of the page

Use ‘at’ in groups of people:

* at the back of the class
* at the front of the class

ON

Use ‘on’ with surfaces:

* on the ceiling / on the wall / on the floor
* on the table

Use ‘on’ with small islands:

* I stayed on Maui.

Use ‘on’ with directions:

* on the left
* on the right
* straight on

IMPORTANT NOTES

In / at / on the corner

We say ‘in the corner of a room’, but ‘at the corner (or ‘on the corner’) of a street’

In / at / on the front

* We say ‘in the front / in the back’ of a car
* We say ‘at the front / at the back’ of buildings / groups of people
* We say ‘on the front / on the back’ of a piece of paper

Test Your Understanding

Now that you have studied the use of on / at / in as a preposition of place, try the follow-up quiz to test your understanding.
http://esl.about.com/library/beginnercourse/bl_beginner_course_gr_quiz_prep1.htm

1. The label is — the bottle.
2. Jack is waiting — the bottom of the stairs.
3. Our seat are — the third row.
4. Turn left — the lights.
5. He’s sitting — the chair next to the piano.
6. I met Jack — the street.
7. He has a lot of beautiful pictures — the wall.
8. I live — the fifth floor of my apartment building.
9. We waited for over an hour — the bus-stop.
10. Who is that woman — the photograph?
11. You will find an explanation — page 18.
12. Paris is — the river Seine.
13. The instructions are — the back of the box.
14. What do you have — your hands?
15. Can you see who is — the door?

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