How to stop confusing the prepositions at and in in English - ForumDaily
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How to stop confusing the prepositions at and in in English

When learning English, everyone is faced with the fact that it is sometimes difficult to understand in which situations one word should be used and in which another. This happens especially often with prepositions. Author blog "Easy Speak - English School" on Yandex.Zen told the difference between prepositions in и at, and in what situations it is correct to use them.

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We need prepositions of place in order to say about the position or finding of someone / something. We use them very often in our speech. For example: “The book is on the table. Children at school. Bag in the car. We are in Park".

In English, prepositions are difficult to use in, at, onwhich are very often confused and misused.

However, it is very important to learn how to use this preposition correctly, because the meaning of the sentence will depend on which preposition you use.

Prepositions of place in English

Prepositions of place indicate the position and location of an object / person in space.

In English there are prepositions of place:

  • above - higher;
  • below - below;
  • before - before, at;
  • behind - behind, behind;
  • under - under (something);
  • over - over;
  • between - between;
  • among - among;
  • near, by, beside - about, near, at;
  • outside - outside, behind;
  • in front of - before;
  • opposite - opposite;
  • at - in;
  • in - in;
  • on - on.
Using the preposition of place on in english
  • Preposition: on
  • Translation: on
  • Transcription: [ɒn] / [he]

Pretext on most often we use it when we talk about what is on the surface. For example: "A cup on the table."

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However, the preposition on there are a few more use cases.

On appropriate when we say:

  1. About the situation on the road, river, sea shore, lake shore.
  2. About the floor in the building.
  3. The fact that we are physically in public transport (bus, metro, train, plane).
Using a preposition in in english
  • Preposition in
  • Translation: in
  • Transcription: [ɪn] / [in]

Pretext in used when we say that a person / object is inside something. This refers to a specific place or building. For example: "I hid from the rain in the store."


  • We put the books in the box (the books are inside the box).
  • We put the books in a box.
  • He is waiting for me in the car (he is inside the car).
  • He is waiting for me in a car.

Also in used in the following cases:

1.With the names of the cardinal points (north, south, west, east)

  • Penguins live in the north.
  • Penguins live in the north.
  • The city is located in the west.
  • The city lies in the west.

2.With cities, countries

  • We live in Moscow.
  • We live in Moscow.
  • She would like to live in New York.
  • She would like to live in New York.
Using a preposition at in english
  • Preposition: at
  • Translation: in
  • Transcription: [æt] / [et]

Pretext at used when we are somewhere with a specific purpose. For example: "He invited me to the cinema." From this example it is clear that he invited not just to stand in the building of the cinema, but for a specific purpose - to watch a movie.

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For example

  • They are in the hospital (in the hospital to be cured, not just standing in the building).
  • They are at the hospital.
  • We eat in a restaurant (we are in a restaurant to eat, not just stand in it).
  • We are eating at a restaurant.

Also preposition at used when something / someone is:

1. At a specific point, point (at a stop, at a corner, at an intersection)

  • He sits at the bus stop.
  • He is sitting at the bus stop.
  • They were waiting for me at the corner.
  • They waited for me at a corner.

2. At an event, some event

  • We're at a concert.
  • We are at a concert.
  • They met at a conference.
  • They met at a conference.

3. In the immediate vicinity, near

  • Her dog is sitting by the door.
  • Her dog is sitting at the door.
  • She stood by the window.
  • She was standing at a window.
What's the difference between in и at

In we use when we are inside something.

  • They are at school.
  • They are in school.

The proposal says that they are in the school building. They are not somewhere on the site or on an excursion, they are inside this building.

At we use it when we are somewhere with a specific purpose.

  • They are at school.
  • They are at school.

In this proposal, we mean that they are at school, they went there with the aim of studying, they can now be in the school itself, on the site next to the school, or even go on a school excursion to the museum.

The original column is published in blog "Easy Speak - English School" on Yandex.Zen.

ForumDaily is not responsible for the content of blogs and may not share the views of the author. If you want to become the author of the column, send your materials to [email protected]

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