Today, I am going to show you everything you need to know about prepositions of place in English.
I have been an English teacher(ESL) for more than 10 years and I love helping students with prepositions.
In this article, I will explain to you how to use prepositions of place with lots of example sentences and exercises. We will start with AT/IN/ON and then we will look at other types of prepositions of place.
So let’s get started…
At, on and in are the most important prepositions in English and remember in this article we are talking about place. (The position of something, where something is) I will talk about time in another article.
We use at as a reference point or for a specific location. Think about this. This idea is very important. When you are walking down the street and your friend calls you and he wants to know where you are (your position on the street). You look up and see Mcdonalds and you say “I am at McDonald’s”. McDonald’s is the reference point and your friend knows where McDonald’s is.
We use at to show where we are at that moment in time. Think about where you are now. I am at home writing this article. You are at home, or at work or at school or at the cinema (Learning English at the cinema!, Well done!).
Let’s look at some examples
Where are you? I am at home.
I can’t see you on the bus, Where are you? I am at the back.
Do you prefer to sit at the front or at the back?
I work at Charles Schwab bank.
Where were you? I was at John’s house
We use on for surfaces. We want to show that an object is supported by that surface. The book is on the table. The book is supported by the table. We also use this for walls or doors too(or even ceilings). The light is on the ceiling. An important modern example is that everything on a screen we use on. So, I like One Minute English on Facebook
I sat down on the chair.
I put the cup on the table.
I watched the movie on Netfilx.
I study English on Skillshare
I put the picture on the wall.
Some interesting examples
I am on the bus
My house is at the bottom of the street on the right(we often use on with street)
We use in to show that something is inside a volume. This can be obvious like in the example “the water is in the glass” or not so obvious ”I am in the park”(I am in the boundaries of the park)
Let’s see some more examples:
John Smith is in jail.
The butter is in the fridge.
I live in Dublin.
The milk is in the cup.
I found your keys in the bin.
I am in the cinema (You can also use at the cinema, it depends on if you are giving the cinema as a reference point(at) or you want to show your location inside and not outside (in))
I am in the middle
He is in the car (on the car means “on top of the car”)
Other prepositions of place
The picture is above the T.V.
The T.V is below the picture
This crazy man went under the bus.
After the dentist his teeth are white.
Before the dentist his teeth were yellow.
Look at this map for the next examples:
In front of
The hospital is in front of the pet shop.
The Pet shop is behind the hospital.
The bookstore is across from the music store.
The Toy store is near the restaurant.
The Toy store is next to the restaurant.
Near is anything that is not far from something
Next to is when something is one position to the left or right
The flower shop is far from the school.
The toy store is in between the restaurant and the music store.
Between is when something is in the middle of two things.
I am standing among the crowd.
Among is when you are in between many things.
I travel around the world.
I like to stay inside when it is raining.
I like camping outside under the stars.
Prepositions connected to movement in space
I put the chair against the wall
I flew from Sao Paulo to Madrid.
We often use “to” with movement. Something moves from (it starts here) one place to another place.
I go to school every day
I walked along the river
I put my phone into my bag
This preposition combines in (inside) and to (movement)
- Out of
This is the opposite of into.
I took my phone out of my bag.
Off usually means away from
I fell off the bed!
It can also mean that one road is not as big as another road
I live off main street
- Onto –
Again you can think of “On” and “to”. Remember on is for surfaces and to is with movement. So, we use onto when something moves from one surface to another surface/
I jumped onto the table( I moved from the floor(surface) to the table(another surface)
To go beyond something
I walked past the shops by accident.
I climbed up the ladder
I walked down the mountain.
We drove through the tunnel.
Exercises for Prepositions of Place
Let’s practice (Answers below)
- I put my phone __ the table.
- I am sitting _____ the wall.
- I watched the game __ my phone.
- I jumped from the bed ____ the table.
- The car drove _____ the tunnel.
- I took ___ my T-shirt.
- I walked ___ the supermarket.(also into)
- I moved __ London last year.
- I live _______ the church and the supermarket.
- I usually sleep ______.
- Australia is ___ ____ Ireland. (long distance)
- I put my phone ____ my bag.
- I saw my friend __/__ the cinema.
- I study English __ the computer
- Where are you __ the moment?
- I put my phone on the table.
- I am sitting against the wall.
- I watched the game on my phone.
- I jumped from the bed onto the table.
- The car drove through the tunnel.
- I took off my T-shirt.
- I walked past the supermarket.(also into)
- I moved to London last year.
- I live between the church and the supermarket.
- I usually sleep inside.
- Australia is far from Ireland. (long distance)
- I put my phone into my bag.
- I saw my friend in/at the cinema.
- I study English on the computer
- Where are you at the moment?
For more worksheets on prepositions of place check out ISL Collective