Prepositions of Location

Prepositions: In, On, and At (with specific times and places)

The prepositions in, on, and at can be used to indicate time and place. Notice how they are used in the following situations:





Year, Month,

In 1999, In December


Day, Date

On Saturday, On May 1



At 8:00, At 7:30





Country, State, City

In Japan, In Utah, InTaipei



On Main Street, On 1st Ave.



At 815 East Main Street


In many languages, there is only one preposition for the above situations.  In English there are three.

Just remember that in usually indicates the "largest" time or place, and at usually indicates the "smallest" time or place.


A: Where's your office?

B:InTaipei, Taiwan.

A: Really? What part of Taipei?

B: It'sonChung Shan North Road.

A: I know that area. Where exactly is it?

B: It'sat105 Chung Shan North Road, next to the bookstore.


C: When is the wedding?

D: It'sinJune.

C: What day?

D: It'sonSaturday, the 25th.

C: What time?

D: It startsat6:00.


Prepositions with articles and locations

Use at to indicate a particular location or site, and in to indicate inside the building, enclosed area, etc. For example:

at the swimming pool (on site)

in the swimming pool (in the pool itself i.e. in the water)

at the post office/bank (general site)

in the post office/bank (inside the building)

at the zoo (visitors, general area)

in the zoo (animals in their cages)

at school

in the classroom


Sample sentences:

I met my wife at the theater. (while watching a movie)

I spilled my drink in the theater (on the floor of the building)

She works at the library on Wednesdays.

She found a rare coin in the library (building).

Dr. Jones works at the hospital every day.

John was in the hospital for a week with a broken leg.


For schoolprison, and churchthe is used to indicate the building. "No article" indicates the general situation. 

Note the following:



in school (studying, listening to teacher, etc.)

intheschool (building)

in jail/prison (staying there as a criminal)

inthejail/prison (temporary)

in church (praying, listening to a sermon, etc.)

inthechurch (building)


Sample question and responses


Where's your dad?


at church (attending services)

at the church (fixing the windows)

in prison (He committed a crime.)

at the prison (visiting his friend)


Similar phrases


Hank is in class right now (listening to a lecture).

Hank is in the classroom, waiting for the teacher.

Mrs. Fox is in hospital. (British English)

Mrs. Fox is in the hospital. (American English)


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