PREPOSITIONS OF PLACE – IN/AT/ON

avril 19, 2010 à 2:45 | Publié dans english (all), intermediate english | Laisser un commentaire

*Image created at wordle.net

These three prepositions are frequently confused. It’s important to understand their general meanings and uses, and also the specific contexts in which we use each preposition.

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Read through the dialogue and focus on the ways in which IN, AT, and ON are used.

Nina: Hi Oliver, it’s Nina.

Oliver: Hi, where are you?

Nina: I’m at Place des Arts metro station. Actually, I’m just outside on the street corner. There’s a café on the right, and a small convenience store on the left. Do you know where I mean?

Oliver: Oh, okay, you’re not at the right place, but that’ fine. I’m in a bar nearby, at the back, reading, but I’m not sure you’ll be able to find your way, so I’ll come and find you. Stay on the street corner and I’ll walk your way. See you in five minutes.

(Oliver hangs up the phone, and walks to find Nina)

Oliver: Hi, great to see you again, I’m so glad you had time to meet up.

Nina: Yep, nice to see you too. You’re lucky, I’m only in Montréal for the weekend.

Oliver: How long were you on the street for?

Nina: About ten minutes, it’s cold today, and it’s always so warm in the metro, and there were so many people in my carriage, the heat was suffocating! And then when I got out, I was freezing all of a sudden. I had to get a warm sandwich.

Oliver: What’s in it?

Nina: Oh, ham and cheese. It’s not spectacular.

Oliver: What were you reading just now?

Nina: Oh, just today’s paper. Do you know where Sebastian is?

Oliver: I don’t know, he’s always late, he’s probably still at home sitting in the lounge on the sofa.

Nina: Oh, and can we stop at the bank on the way, I need to take some cash out.

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suffocating: étouffant

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Now read through the grammar and try to get a sense of when we use each preposition.

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IN

We use “in” to talk about something or someone within or enclosed by a space or an area.

e.g.

I’m in the kitchen cooking at the moment

In the garden there is a large maple tree

There aren’t many fish in the river anymore, it’s too polluted

You can be “in” a room, elevator or other space, but you can also be in a city, a country or a continent.

e.g.

There are too many people in the elevator

The Statue of Liberty is in New York

There are 53 countries in Africa

We use “in” to describe something submerged, contained, or withheld.

e.g.

There are millions of species of fish in the ocean

I need more air in my tyres, they’re really flat

The man has been in prison for the last ten years

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AT

We use “at” to talk about a general location when we don’t need to be particularly specific, accurate or exact.

e.g.

I am at the airport

She didn’t realize she’d forgotten the wine until she was at the door

There are lots of people at the bus stop

We use “at” to give directions when we want to refer to a location where the person should take a particular action.

e.g.

Turn right at the traffic lights

When you are at the hotel, find a parking space nearby

At the second cross-street, you have to turn right, then left at the bank

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ON

We use “on” to talk about something which rests on something else, or something which is above something else, or something or someone in reference to something underneath them.

e.g.

It’s on the table next to the books

He was standing on the pavement

The article is on the second page

We use “on” to give directions using certain words such as left and right.

e.g.

Keep going straight on, and then turn when you see a hotel on the right, and then go past a bakery on the left.

The office is on the first floor, second room on the right

On the way could you pick up some milk for me?

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Complete the following sentences. Answers are at the end of the lesson.

  1. The man is _____ work, _____ the third floor, _____ his office.
  2. Your keys have been left _____ reception, they were found _____ a table _____ the boardroom.
  3. I’m _____ the street waiting for you _____ the entrance to the hotel.
  4. _____ page 4 you’ll find information about how to apply.
  5. When I was _____ New York, I found I was always in a hurry.
  6. My mother has been _____ the hospital this week having surgery.
  7. It’s 32°C _____ Nice today.
  8. We need to be _____ the concert early, otherwise we’ll spend hours queuing.
  9. We spent our honeymoon _____ a cruise ship.
  10. Grandma left her shopping _____ the supermarket checkout.

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Now read through the following dialogue (continued from earlier), and examine the uses of “in”, “at”, and “on”.

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Nina: So you remember I was reading the paper earlier when I was waiting for you on the street?

Oliver: Yes, at Place des Arts metro.

Nina: Yeah, well there’s an interesting article in it on the front page about political corruption.

Oliver: Where, at the bottom of the page?

Nina: Yes, at the bottom in the left-hand corner.

Oliver: I remember hearing something on the radio about this story.

Nina: It’s amazing. Look at the second paragraph, it’s a huge scandal. And the guy looks so guilty in the photograph too!

Sebastian: Hi guys, sorry I’m late, I was waiting for a bus at the corner of Park avenue and Sherbrooke for ages. I don’t understand why it took so long…

Oliver: Oh yeah? So being late has nothing to do with the party you were at last night, and not getting out of bed?

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IDIOMATIC USES

There are many idiomatic uses of “in”, “at” and “on”, which are shown in the dialogue above. Try to remember the following expressions.

IN a line, queue, row

IN the sky, the world

IN bed

IN a photograph

ON the left, right

ON the first floor, second floor

ON a map, on a menu

ON the front, back, way

AT the start, end

AT the party

We can use “in” and “at” when talking about a corner, depending on whether it is the corner of a room, or at the corner of a street.

e.g.

The cat is hiding in the corner of the room

I’m at the corner of Broadway and Soul

We can use “on” and “in” with transport, depending on what we are talking about.

e.g.

I’m in the car right now, I can’t talk

Quick, get in the taxi, there’s a lot of traffic waiting for us

I was on the bus yesterday when…

I hate getting on the metro when it’s busy

When we are talking about media, we use “on”.

e.g.

My husband was on the radio today

The show will be on television tomorrow night

I looked it up on the internet

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Read through the following sentences. Are they correct or incorrect? Find any incorrect use of a preposition and select the correct alternative. Scroll down to the end of the lesson for the answers.

  1. You need to get in the metro if you want to go all the way over the other side of the city, it’s too far to walk.
  2. The quote is at the corner of the page on the second paragraph in the third sentence.
  3. As you’re driving along the street, you’ll see a hotel on the right, and then you need to turn left at the next intersection.
  4. There are lots of ingredients in this recipe.
  5. There are lots of beaches in the island.
  6. Did you think it was cold at Sue’s house last night?
  7. Did the train stop in the last station, or did we go straight through?
  8. I met her at the theatre, during the interval.
  9. I work at the downtown office, at the marketing department.
  10. On the end of the street there is a large supermarket, just at the corner.

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Complete the following sentences. Answers follow the article.

  1. I’m always waiting _____ line for something or other. I hate being _____ a queue.
  2. I heard _____ the radio that we won the hockey.
  3. Who’s that _____ the left-hand side of you _____ the photograph?
  4. Can we sit _____ the table _____ the corner of the room, please?
  5. We were _____ our way to the seats _____ the back of the cinema _____ the penultimate row, but somebody took them before us.

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Adamique offre des cours d’anglais et de français à Montréal. Visitez notre site web pour plus d’informations !

Adamique offers French and English classes in Montreal. Visit our website for more information!

Adamique在蒙特利尔提供法语和英语培训课程。更多信息请访问我们的网站.

www.adamique.com

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Answers:

  1. The man is at work, on the third floor, in his office.
  2. Your keys have been left at reception, they were found on a table in the boardroom.
  3. I’m on the street waiting for you at the entrance to the hotel.
  4. On page 4 you’ll find information about how to apply.
  5. When I was in New York, I found I was always in a hurry.
  6. My mother has been in hospital this week having surgery.
  7. It’s 32°C in Nice today.
  8. We need to be at the concert early, otherwise we’ll spend hours queuing.
  9. We spend our honeymoon on a cruise ship.
  10. Grandma left her shopping at the supermarket checkout.

  1. You need to get in ON the metro if you want to go all the way over the other side of the city, it’s too far to walk.
  2. The quote is at IN the corner of the page on IN the second paragraph in the third sentence.
  3. As you’re driving along the street, you’ll see a hotel on the right, and then you need to turn left at the next intersection.
  4. There are lots of ingredients in this recipe.
  5. There are lots of beaches in ON the island.
  6. Did you think it was cold at IN Sue’s house last night?
  7. Did the train stop in AT the last station, or did we go straight through?
  8. I met her at the theatre, during the interval.
  9. I work at the downtown office, at IN the marketing department.
  10. On AT the end of the street there is a large supermarket, just at ON the corner.

  1. I’m always waiting in line for something or other. I hate being in a queue.
  2. I heard on the radio that we won the hockey.
  3. Who’s that on the left-hand side of you in the photograph?
  4. Can we sit at the table in the corner of the room, please?
  5. We were on our way to the seats at the back of the cinema in the penultimate row, but somebody took them before us.

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