It’s three-dimensional

We use it when we see something as all around.     


    In Los Angeles (cities)       

In Brazil (countries)

In the kitchen (rooms)

  In the morning / In the afternoon/ In the evening (parts of the day) (at night)!

   In December (months)

In 1969 (years)




It’s two-dimensional

We use it for a surface.

On weekends (parts of the week)

On Monday (days of the week)

On First avenue (streets)

On the corner of Main and First.

On December 8th (specific dates)

 A book on rabbits is a more scientific book than a book about rabbits.

Upon is sometimes more formal than on, but is standard in once upon a time, and upon my word.


It’s one-dimensional

We use it when we see something as a point in space

Also at+event         at+building

At home/work/school, at the theater

At night

At 9000 Sunset Boulevard (addresses)
Image result for 9000 sunset blvd building

At 8:30 AM (the time)

Compare in and at with buildings

 Tom is at the theater.(watching a play)

Tom is in the theater.(inside the building, maybe buying tickets)


 Complete the exercise here-CLICK

Use of Prepositions

The basic meaning of prepositions are concerned with place, time, or both place and time. The prepositions that are not concerned with place or time have a variety of other meanings. Prepositions are difficult because almost every definition for a prep has exceptions. The best way to learn them is to study certain common uses and expressions.
The following diagram will give you a general idea of how prepositions work. However, often this diagram will not help you understand the meaning of expressions containing prepositions.

Between                   throughout                                  on top of
Beyond                     till                                              out of
By                           to                                               owing to=because of
Down                      toward(s)
During                     under
Except                     underneath
For                          until
From                       up
In                            upon
Inside                      with
Into                         without
DURING: this preposition should be distinguished from since and for.
During is usually followed by a noun indicating time. It indicates duration of time. During our vacation, we visited many relatives across the country.
During the summer, we do not have to study.
FROM: this preposition generally means the opposite of to ( see diagram).
e.g. He came from Miami last night. (opposite of: He went to Miami).
1-     Common usage of from: from { a time, a place} to {a time, a place}. He lived in Germany from 1972 to 1978. We drove from Atlanta to New York in one day.
2-     Common expressions with from :from time to time, meaning (occasionally).
We visit the art museum from time to time.
OUT OF: This preposition generally means the opposite of INTO, (see diagram).
He walked out of the room angrily when John admonished him.
1-     Common usage of OUT OF: out of + noun (to lack, to be without).
María went to the store because she was out of milk.
2-     Common expressions with out of:
a)     out of town (away). Mr. Adams cannot see you this week because he is out of town.
b)      Out of date (old). Don’t use that dictionary. It is out of date. Find that is up to date.
c)      Out of work (jobless, unemployed). Henry has been very unhappy since he has been out of work.
d)     Out of the question (impossible). Your request for an extension of credit is out of the question.
e)     Out of order (not functioning). We had to use our neighbor’s telephone because ours was out of order.
BY: this preposition generally means to go past a place or to be situated near a place.
We walked by the library on the way home. Your books are by the window.
1-     Common usage of BY:
a)     to indicate the agent in passive sentences. Romeo and Juliet was written by Shakespeare.
b)      By + specific time (before). We usually eat supper by six o’clock in the evening.
c)      By bus/plane/train/ship/car/bike (indicates mode of travel). (see on, 1.b). We traveled to Boston by train.
2-     Common expressions with BY:
a)     by then, (before a time in the past or future). I will graduate from the university in 1999. By then, I hope to have found a job.
b)      By way of, (via). We are driving to Atlanta by way of Baton Rouge. (capital of Louisiana), another important city in the state of Louisiana is New Orleans.
c)      by the way (incidentally). By the way, I’ve got two tickets for Saturday’s game. Would you like to go with me? 
d)     By far (considerably) this book is by far the best on the subject.
e)     By accident/by mistake(not intentionally, opposite of on purpose). Nobody will receive a check on Friday because the wrong cards were put into the computer by accident.
MORE ABOUT IN: This preposition generally means inside of a place or enclosure. It is the opposite of OUT. Dr Jones is in his office..
1-     Common usage of IN:
a)     In a room/building/drawer/closet(INSIDE). Your socks are in the drawer.
b)      In + month/year(see on, 1-a). His birthday is in January. America was discovered in 1492.
c)      In time (not late, early enough) (see on time, 2-a). We arrived at the airport in time to eat before the plane left.
d)     In the street (see on, 1-c). The children were warned not to play in the streets.
e)     In the morning/afternoon/evening. (see at night, 2-b). I have a dental appointment in the morning, but I will be free in the afternoon.
f)       In the past/future. In the past, attendance at school was not compulsory, but it is today.
g)      In the beginning/end. Everyone seemed unfriendly in the beginning, but in the end everyone made friends.
h)     In the way (obstructing), (see on the way, 2-b). He could not park his car in the driveway because another car was in the way.
i)       Once in a while (occasionally) . Once in a while, we eat dinner in a Chinese restaurant.
j)       In no time at all (in a very short time). George finished his assignment in no time at all.
k)     In the meantime (at the same time, meanwhile). We start school in several weeks, but in the meantime, we can take a trip.
l)       In the middle. Grace stood in the middle of the room looking for her friend.
m)   In the army/air force/navy. My brother was in the army for ten years.
n)     In a row. We are going to sit in the tenth row of the auditorium.
o)      In the event that (if). In the event that you win the prize, you will be notified by mail.
p)      In case (if). I will give you the key to the house so you’ll have it in case I arrive a little late.
q)      (Get) in touch with, (get) in contact with . It’s very difficult to get in touch with Jenny because she works all day.
A MORE COMPLETE NOTE ABOUT ON: This preposition generally means a position above, but in contact with an object. The records are on the table.
1-     Common usage of ON.
a)     on a day/date (see in, 1-b). I will call you on Thursday. His birthday is on January 28.
b)      On (a/the) bus/plane/train/ ship/bike, (see by, 1-c). It is too late to see Janet; she is already on the plane. I came to school this morning on the bus.
c)      On a street (situation of a building). (see in, 1-d and at, 1-a). George lives on Baker Street.
d)     On the floor of a building. Henry lives on the fifteenth floor.
2-     Common expressions with ON:
a)     on time (punctual, used for a schedule, event or appointment, more specific than in time). (see in 1-c). Despite the bad weather, our plane left on time.
b)      On the corner of ( two streets). ( see in 1-b). Norman Hall is on the corner of 13th Street and 5th Ave.   
c)      On the sidewalk. Don’t walk in the street, walk on the sidewalk.
d)     On the way (en route) (see in 1-h). We can stop at the grocery store on the way home.
e)     On the right/left. Paul sits on the left side of the room and they sit on the right.
f)       On television/(the) radio. The president’s “state of union address” will be on television and on the radio tonight.
g)      On the telephone. Janet will be here soon; she’s on the telephone.
h)     On the whole (in general, all things considered). On the whole, the rescue mission was well executed.
i)       On the other hand, (however, nevertheless). The present perfect aspect is never used to indicate specific time; on the other hand, the simple past tense is.
j)       On sale. (offered for sale). The house will go on sale this weekend. (offered at a lower than normal price). The regular price of the radio is $39.95, but today it is on sale for $25.00.
k)     On foot (walking). My car would not start so I came on foot.
l)       On the house or on me, (the house treats or pays). The next round of drinks are on me.
m)   On the instant, (at once, immediately). Please come in on the instant!
n)     On the rocks, (with ice, esp. Whisky) . Another scotch on the rocks, please.
1-     Common usage of AT:
a)     at + an address ( see on, 1-c). John lives at 856 Baker Street.
b)      At + a specific time. The class begins at 8:00 o’clock.
2-     Common expressions with at:
a)     at home/school/work. From nine to five, Charles is at work and his roommate is at school. At night, they are usually at home.
b)      At night (see in 1-e). We never go out at night because we live too far from town.
c)      At least (at the minimum). We will have to spend at least two weeks doing the experiment.
d)     At once (immediately). Please come home at once!
e)     At present/the moment(now). She’s studying at the moment.
f)       At times (occasionally). At times it is difficult to understand him because he speaks too fast.
g)      At first (initially). Jane was nervous at first, but later she left more relaxed.
h)     At a loss (perplexed, confused) After the blast he was at a loss.
i)       At last (finally). He passed the exam at last.(eventually)
j)       At sea, (sailing). When I served in the navy we used to be at sea for months.
k)     At random (with no specific selection). He chose three people from the list at random.
l)       At that  ( In addition; besides)  He lived in one room, and a small room at that.
He lost the left arm, and the right one at that.
1-     on the beach
2-     in place of (instead of)
3-     for the most part (mainly, principally)
4-     in hopes of, hoping to
5-     of course, (certainly)
6-     off and on (intermittently)
7-     all of a sudden, (suddenly)
8-     for good, (for ever) Helen is leaving Chicago for good. I sometimes feel like leaving Buenos Aires for good.