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Grammar

1. Prepositions of Place

Prepositions show relationships between things. For example: "The lamp is on the table" contains the preposition "on". This word shows the spatial relationship between the lamp, and the table.

The most common prepositions of place are: in, on, under, next to, in front of, behind, at.

Look at the following pictures to learn their meaning:



In, on, under, in front of, and behind are clear from the pictures above. Example sentences are:
- The dog is in the box.
- The cat is under the table.
- The man is next to the building.

At however is a more abstract concept - it is used to refer to a point in space, usually a point on a line. See below for more explanation.

2. In, On, At

In is used to show somethng that surrounds or encloses us. For example:

- I sleep in my bedroom.
- The desk is in the room.

In is also used for geographical areas such as cities and countries, for example: "I live in London" or "I live in England".

On is used to show something that is on a surface. For example:

- I sleep on my bed.
- The paper is on the desk.

On is also used for street names, for example: "I live on Orchard Road".

At is used to show something that is at a particular point, often as part of a line. For example:

- He is at the bus stop.
The bus stop is one point in a line of bus stops.
- John is at the bank.
John is at a particular place or point, the bank. The bank is part of his journey and also part of a street, both of which can be seen as lines.

At is also used for complete addresses, for example: "I live at 22 Orchard Road, London, England."

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So why do we live "on a street" but "in a city"? And how can you know for sure when to use in, on, or at? It depends on the perspective of the speaker, and what is considered acceptable in English. These are questions that all English learners encounter and they cannot be completely answered through rote memorization or lists of rules. As your exposure to English grows you will gain enough experience to be able to decide for yourself which is correct. Simply keep trying to understand, and eventually you will.

Now give some exercises a try!

 

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