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
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
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
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.
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?