In this ‘English Corner’ blog post, we are going to go deeper into the topic of prepositions, which we have covered previously but I want to highlight the specific ‘prepositions of place’ that are a large part of this expansive grammatical topic. The thing to keep in mind when reading this article is to focus mainly on the examples listed below to see how, when, and why these preposition words such as ‘at, on, and in’ are used. There are different reasons that are given when it comes to each of the ‘preposition of place’ words and how they end up being used in a sentence. Later on, I will highlight the ‘prepositions of time’ and how they are utilized when compared to the ‘prepositions of place.’
When it comes to ‘prepositions of place’, the main point of this type of prepositions is to show where something or someone is located, usually in a physical sense. The three major words that are ‘prepositions of place’ are ‘at, in, and on’, which also come up the most frequently in terms of usage. ‘At’ is used in a very specific manner in terms of being referred to for a specific location, place, or position.
Here are some examples where we can use ‘at’ as a ‘preposition of place’ in the right way:
- I was at Jonathan’s birthday party last night.
- We lived together at 8 Drury Lane for two years.
- They danced with each other for the first time at the Senior Prom.
When you use the prepositional word ‘on’, the meaning and usage for it is a little bit different than ‘at.’ For ‘on’, you’re going to use it to indicate the position of an object, thing, or person on a horizontal or vertical surface such as a desk, table, floor, etc.
Here are some examples of how we can the preposition ‘on’ in a sentence:
- The boy is playing on the playground.
- The basketball was bouncing on the court surface.
- I put my cowboy hat on the kitchen table.
Similarly to ‘at’, ‘on’ can also be used for positioning when it comes to streets, roads, and avenues.
Example: I used to live on Beacon Street.
The last major ‘preposition of place’ would have to be ‘in’ which is quite frequent in its’ usage. In terms of its’ meaning, the preposition ‘in’ is used for something or someone that is enclosed or surrounded.
Here are some examples of how we can use the preposition ‘in’ in a sentence:
- The check is in the mail.
- The letters are in the mailbox.
- She is in the high-speed train going home from work.
In addition to discussing enclosed or closed off places and spaces, the preposition ‘in’ can also refer to a position within a general area such as a town, city, country, region, country, continent, etc.
Example: I used to live in Istanbul, Turkey but now I live in London, England.
It’s important that the average English learner be made aware that there are many more prepositions of place besides the main ones, which are ‘at, in, on.’ There are many other prepositions of place words, and it would be an exhaustive list to go over the meaning and usage of each one. However, it would be better to highlight another couple of preposition of place words that come up frequently but not as often as ‘in, on, at.’ The other ‘preposition of place’ words would be after, among, behind, between, in front of, next to, beside, by, over, above, under, below, and beneath. Here are some examples of sentences that use these other preposition of place that were just mentioned above:
- The dog jumped over the wheelbarrow.
- He was hanging out by the pool on his off day from work.
- She checked under her bed to see if her pet gerbil was there.
There are dozens of examples that could be made with prepositions of place. However, it’s best to focus mainly on the particular prepositions of place such as ‘at, on, in’ and to understand clearly when, why, and how we use them correctly. While a sub-topic within ‘prepositions’, knowing what prepositions of place are and how to use them correctly in the grammatical sense will help you to become a better English learner and student.