How to use in, on, at when we talk about a place

Today we are learning about using in, on, and at while talking about a place. As we have learned so far, prepositions are those words we use to link words in sentences. Time, place and direction are the three types of prepositions. In this blog post, our focus will be on three prepositions of place, and they are in, on, and at. Because they are all very similar, it may seem difficult to use them. But, with the help of some tips, it will be easier than ever to apply all of them correctly. 

When to use “in” with place

We use in when we talk about larger and more general places, such as countries, cities, neighbourhood, and enclosed space. We are not referring to a specific address or location, but rather we use in with places that cover vast space. Here are some examples of when to use in:

Countries: “I was in Turkey last year.”

Cities: “Does she live in Paris or in Vienna?”

Neighbourhood: “I grew up in Manhattan.”

As we can see from the examples above, we use in with talking about large areas, places in general. We do not ask about specific location in Turkey or Paris, and we are not talking about a street number in Manhattan. 

When to use “on” with place

When we narrow down our frame for a place, and we want to talk about locations that are a bit more specific than the entire countries or cities, we usually use the preposition on while talking. Therefore, "on" is used when we talk about streets, avenues, and surfaces. Here are some examples: 

Streets: “My parents live on the Columbus Street.”

Avenues: “The barber’s shop is on Fifth Avenue.”

Surfaces: “My dog got stuck on the roof again.”

When examining these examples, it is clear that the locations are not really general, but they are neither specific, they are somewhere in the middle, such as, we know where the Fifth Avenue is, but we don’t know the exact address.

When to use at with place

Finally, when we talk about very specific places, when we know exactly where something is, we use the preposition at. Therefore, we will use “at” with addresses and specific locations. Here are the examples:

Address: “Meet me at 372 State Street.”

Specific Locations: “There were hundreds of people at the station this morning.”

As we can see from these examples, we use “at” when we want the other person to know exactly where to go or what place we are talking about. 

All in all, in, on, and at may seem a bit complicated to use when talking about a place. But all we need to remember is that “in” is used with general, “on” with more specific, and “at” with the most specific locations. After we learn and remember that, we will use them all correctly with no problems at all!

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