English grammar can be tricky, and one area that many students find particularly difficult is prepositions. A preposition links nouns, pronouns, and phrases to other words in a sentence.
I’m sorry, I know they are hard to get your head around and I wish I could make them go away, but I can’t. So, my next best offer is to try and help you get comfortable with using them. Let’s do a quick review of when to use three of the most common ones: in, on, and at.
Use: When talking about time, we use ‘in’ when referring to an unspecific time of the day, a month, a season or a year.
Here are some examples:
- “I always brush my teeth in the morning.”
- “My birthday is in June.”
- “It’s always cold in winter.”
- “My brother was born in 1999.”
Use 2: When talking about places, ‘in’ is used to indicate a location or place. Here are a few examples:
- “I used to live in Florida.”
- “The city of Bangkok is in Thailand.”
- “I am in my room.”
Use: The word ‘on’, when talking about time, is for specific dates and days.
Some examples are:
- “He was born on September 24th.”
- “I go to the gym on Mondays and Wednesdays.”
Use 1: When talking about places, ‘on’ is used when we are speaking about a surface. Something is on the surface of something else.
- “The papers are on the coffee table.”
- “I left the keys on the counter.”
Use 2: When talking about time, ‘at’ is used for a specific time.
So for example:
- “I will see you at 8:00 pm.”
- “My interview is at 3:00 pm.”
Use 3: When talking about places, ‘at’ is used to indicate a specific place.
Some examples are:
- “We are meeting at the cafe.”
- “The football game is at the stadium.”
Let’s practice with the next exercise!
1. I live ___ a house.
2. We will meet ___ 5:00 pm.
3. My birthday is ___ May 5th.
4. The last Olympics were held ___ 2012.
5. I usually study ___ Sundays.
6. My books were ___ this table, where did they go?
7. They left ___ 9:00 am.
8. We met ___ the park.
9. I like taking a nap ___ the afternoon.
10. It rains a lot ___ spring.
It will surely take time and practice to become an expert at using prepositions, but keep on trying and it will eventually stick!
Answers: in, at, on, in, on, on, at, at, in, in.
Image: Moyan Brenn.
Article related: English grammar help: Common Prepositions