IN vs. ON vs. AT

IN        ON      AT

– We use IN when we are not talking about a special place in an area.
– We use IN to talk about a general position within a large area, or something within a larger space.
1. I live in HCHC.
2. She looked in her bag for her keys.
3. England is in Western Europe.

– We use ON when we are talking about a line like a street, road, or river.
–  We also use ON when we talk about a flat surface like the floor or a wall.
1. There is a picture of … on the wall.
2. Our classroom is on the 1st floor.
3. They live on North Street.

– We use AT when we talk about a special place on a line, or at a point where 2 lines meet, like a building.
– We also use AT when we talk about the outside of a building or place.

1. He is at the swimming pool (not in the water).
2. I will meet you at McDonalds.
3. The bank is at the corner of North Street and West Street.

More examples:

She wants to play tennis at Wimbledon. We think of Wimbledon as a special point/place.
Were you at the pool yesterday? We think of the pool as a place: someone IN the pool (in the water), or AT the pool (next to the pool).
He lives in Manchester. When we talk about doing something for a long time (like live) we use IN.
We stopped at Milan, Florence and Venice on our way to Rome. When we use AT we stay only for a short time.
She works at Marks and Spencer’s. We use AT when we think of the special name of a shop or place.
She works in a shoe shop. We use IN when we think of the kind of shop.
I read the paper in the taxi on the way here. We use IN for transport that is near the ground (cars/taxis)
I’ll probably go on the bus. We use ON when we think of transport that is high off the ground, when we take a step up (trains/planes/buses/bicycles, etc.)

On a street (North Amr.)

At (on) the corner of…


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