Learn the English Prepositions of Place (In, At, On, Onto, Out of)

A woman preparing a meal and singing in a kitchen
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Prepositions are used to show relationships between objects, people, and places. The prepositions 'in', 'on' and 'at' are often used to express these relationships. Here are explanations of when to use each each preposition along with example sentences to help you understand.

How to Use the Preposition "In"

Use 'in' with indoor and outdoor spaces.

  • in a room / in a building
  • in a garden / in a park

I have two TVs in my house.
They live in that building over there.

Use 'in' with bodies of water:

  • in the water
  • in the sea
  • in a river

I like swimming in lakes when the weather is hot.
You can catch fish in the river.

Use 'in' with lines:

  • in a row / in a line
  • in a queue

Let's stand in line and get a ticket to the concert.
We had to wait in a queue to get into the bank.

Use 'in' with cities, counties, states, regions and countries:

Peter lives in Chicago.
Helen is in France this month. Next month she'll be in Germany.

How to Use the Preposition "At"

Use 'at' with places:

  • at the bus-stop
  • at the door
  • at the cinema
  • at the end of the street

I'll meet you at the movie theater at six o'clock.
He lives in the house at the end of the street.

Use 'at' with places on a page:

The name of the chapter is at the top of the page.
The page number can be found at the bottom of the page.

Use 'at' in groups of people:

  • at the back of the class
  • at the front of the class

Tim sits at the back of the class.
Please come and sit down at the front of the class.

How to Use the Preposition "On"

Use 'on' with surfaces:

  • on the ceiling / on the wall / on the floor
  • on the table

I put the magazine on the table.
That's a beautiful painting on the wall.

Use 'on' with small islands:

I stayed on Maui last year. It was great!
We visited friends who live on an island in the Bahamas.

Use 'on' with directions:

  • on the left
  • on the right
  • straight on

Take the first street on the left and continue to the end of the road.
Drive straight on until you come to a gate.

Important Notes

In / at / on the corner

We say 'in the corner of a room', but 'at the corner (or 'on the corner') of a street'.

  • I put the chair in the corner of the bedroom of the house on the corner of 52nd Street.
  • I live at the corner of 2nd Avenue.

In / at / on the front

We say 'in the front / in the back' of a car

  • I get to sit in the front Dad!
  • You can lie down and sleep in the back of the car.

We say 'at the front / at the back' of buildings/groups of people

  • The entrance door is at the front of the building.

We say 'on the front / on the back' of a piece of paper

  • Write your name on the front of the paper.
  • You'll find the grade on the back of the page.

How to Use the Preposition "Into"

Use 'into' to express movement from one area into another:

  • I drove into the garage and parked the car.
  • Peter walked into the living room and turned on the TV.

How to Use the Preposition "Onto"

Use 'onto' to show that someone puts something onto a surface.

  • He put the magazines onto the table.
  • Alice put the plates onto the shelf in the cupboard.

Out of

Use 'out of' when moving something towards you or when leaving a room:

  • I took the clothes out of the washer.
  • He drove out of the garage.

How Well Do You Know Your English Place Prepositions?

Try this quiz to check your understanding.

1. My friend now lives _____ Arizona.
2. Go down the street and take the first street _____ the right.
3. That's a beautiful picture _____ the wall.
4. My friend lives _____ the island of Sardinia.
5. He's the man _____ the front of the room.
6. He drove the car _____ the garage.
7. I'll meet you _____ the shopping mall.
8. I like to sit _____ the back of the room.
9. Tom went swimming _____ the lake.
10. Let's stand _____ line to see the movie.
11. He walked slowly __________ the water.
Learn the English Prepositions of Place (In, At, On, Onto, Out of)
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Learn the English Prepositions of Place (In, At, On, Onto, Out of)
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