in, on, at (place)
Spanish-speaking students often confuse these two prepositions as both mean “en” in Spanish. These are their differences in English:
Inside an enclosed place (building, office, room, bag, box, etc.) or a territory with borders (region, province, country, city, garden, etc.). Expressions with in:
in a room
in a building
in a garden
in Venice/Madrid/Buenos Aires
in a village/town/city
in a pool/river/sea
in a row/line/queue/street
in a photograph/picture/a mirror
in the sky
in the world
in a newspaper/book/magazine/letter
Shows a point in space where something is happening. It´s a point in a map/territory.
at the bus stop
at the door
at the window
at the traffic lights
at the church
at the top/bottom
at the beginning/end (of a street, book, film, etc.)
On is used with surfaces (“sobre” in Spanish) and lines:
on a street/avenue
on the beach
on the river
on a sofa
on a table
on the floor
on the ceiling
on a shirt/skirt/jumper
on page 7
Expressions where we can use more than one preposition:
1) I live in Kingston Street. The bar is on Queen Avenue.
2) I went to a concert at the Royal Theatre. The chairs in this theatre are all blue.
3) Let´s meet at the cinema. It was quite cold in the cinema
4) The train doesn´t stop at Benicassim.. She lives in Benicassim.
5) I was still in bed at 6 a.m. I got up at 8 today.. I like reading on my bed.
6) Lucy is in hospital. I was at the hospital for a routine check-up this morning.
7) Jack was sitting in the back/front of the car. The garden is at the back/front of the house.
8) There´s a plant in the corner of the room. There´s a pub at/on the corner of the street.
9) I like the label on the this bag. What´s in that bag?
10) There´s someone at the door. Look at the notice on the door.
11) I found the ad in yesterday´s newspaper. The exercise is on page 10.
Here is an exercise to practise.