Rules for Prepositions IN, ON, AT, TO

Posted by Rama Van Basten under

Rules for Prepositions IN, ON, AT, TO

Basic Rules

A. AT a time

B. ON a day

C. IN a month (season, year, decade, century)

D. AT an address

E. ON a street

F. IN an area (neighborhood, town, borough, state, country, continent, ocean,

the world, the solar system, the universe)

20 Special Rules for Prepositions IN, ON, AT, TO

1. look AT and listen TO

2. TO with verbs of desire, necessity, expectation

love TO, like TO, hate TO, want TO, need TO, have TO, hope TO, expect TO

3. AT night

IN the morning, IN the afternoon, IN the evening

4. ON transportation

ON the bus, ON the train, ON the subway, ON a plane, ON a jet, ON a ship,

ON a bicycle, ON a motorcycle, ON a surfboard, ON a skateboard


IN a car, IN a taxi, IN a small boat, IN an elevator, IN a helicopter

5. AT an intersection (where two streets cross)

AT Broadway and 42nd Street, AT Fifth Avenue and 34th Street

6. ON an island, ON a farm, ON a college campus, ON earth, ON a planet

7. expressions that mean sometimes use different prepositions:

from time TO time, ON occasion, once IN a while

8. IN a park, IN a yard, AT a playground

9. ON anything flat

ON a plate, ON the wall, ON the floor, ON a shelf, ON the blackboard,

ON a table, ON a desk, ON the stove, ON your face, a hat ON your head

10. IN a room or anything smaller

IN the closet, IN a drawer, IN a cup, IN a bowl, IN a glass, IN your

mouth, ideas IN your head, a look IN your eye, a ribbon IN your hair

11. TO when moving from point A TO point B

go TO school, drive TO work, take a trip TO Boston, take your kids TO

school, fly TO London, walk TO the library, bring your dog TO the vet

12. ON a/an [adjective] morning, afternoon, evening, night, day

ON a cold afternoon, ON a sunny morning, ON a rainy evening,

ON a Saturday night, ON a spring day, ON a special night

13. ON vacation, ON the weekend, ON a trip, ON a picnic, ON your break,

ON a leave of absence, ON your lunch hour

14. IN the water swimming (or drowning), ON the water boating

15. AT the beach (the whole place), lie ON the beach (=ON the sand), play IN the sand

16. ON anything like a line

ON the coast, stand ON line, ON the border, ON the side, ON a team/committee

17. ON forms of communication

ON TV, ON the radio, ON the phone, ON the fax machine, ON the computer, ON

a disk, ON a CD, ON a hard drive, ON a channel, ON a screen

18. a report or news article ON the economy (ABOUT the economy)

19. ON time for an event or activity: Come to the meeting ON time. Be in class ON time.

20. IN time (or too late) TO do something: Get to the station IN time TO catch a train.

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