Prepositions of Place

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Prepositions of Place :

We use AT to talk about the position or point where somebody or something is.

There is somebody at the gate.
Here we see the gate as a point in space.

The car was waiting at the traffic lights.
We see the traffic lights as a point.

I met him at the station.

The station is a meeting point

We use IN when we see something as having volume or area.

I had Rs. 300 in my pocket.
Kamala is in the kitchen.
The children were playing in the park.

We use AT with a building or institution when we arc thinking of its normal purpose

Did you see Saroja at the party?
There were hundreds of people at the meeting.
I was at the library for two hours.
I was using the library. I was reading.
We were at the cinema last night.
We were watching a film.

Compare the above two sentences with the following sentences in which IN is used.

It was hot in the library.
It was hot inside the library.
There are 460 seats in the cinema.
There are 460 seats inside the building.

As shown in the above examples, we often use AT with a building when we are thinking of the activity that happens there.

We use IN when we mean inside the building.
We use AT for somebody's home.

I had a cup of coffee at Vijay’s house.
I had a cup of coffee at Vijay’s flat.
I stayed at my friend’s house for two days.
We use on for a surface.
The keys are on the table.
Look at the pictures on the wall.
There are stains on your shirt.

We use ON for position on a line such as a river, road or frontier.

Varanasi is on the Ganga River.
The house is right on the main road, so it is noisy.
Brighton is on the south coast of England.

We use IN with countries, cities and towns.

My uncle works in the USA.
We lived in Nagpur for four years.
With villages we can use at or in.
They used to live at / in a village near Chennai.
They used to live at / in a village near Chennai.

Sometimes we cannot use AT with villages.

For example….AT cannot be used in the following sentence.

How long have you lived in this village?
The speaker is in the village now.
So the expression….at this village….would sound unnatural.

The speaker thinks of the place as something which is all around him.

We use AT when we think of a place as a point on a journey.

We change trains at Gudur station.
Our plane stopped at London on the way to America.

We use arrive + in with countries, cities and towns.
We use arrive + at with other places.

We arrived in Jaipur on 14TH.
We arrived at the airport very early.

With addresses we use AT when we give the house number.
We use IN when we just give the name of the street or road.

They live at 78 Museum Street.
We live in M.G. Street.

Note that in American English, ON is used with the names of streets.

We use on for the number of the floor.
I live in a flat on the second floor.

We say….in the corner…when we are talking about a room.

We say….on / at the comer….when we are talking about a street.

Put the stool in the comer of the room.

There is a cafe on / at the comer of the street.

We use ON and AT for page numbers as in the following examples.

The details are given on page 76.
Open the book at page 39.

Note also the following :

on television / TV (We saw the movie on TV.)
on Channel 43 (The programme is on Channel 72.)
on the Internet/ Net (I have read the newspaper on the Net.)
on the Web (I found the information on the Web.)
on the phone/ mobile (I talked to him on the phone.)
In the radio (I listened to the music in the radio.)
on CD-ROM (The dictionary is available on CD-ROM.)
at the top/ bottom of a hill

But…..on top of a hill

ON TOP OF is regarded as a preposition.
In….at the top of something….top is a noun.

on the farm
at the seaside
in a queue / line / row
on the right / left (You must drive on the left.)
in the front/ in the back of a car

But….at the front / at the back of a building
on the back of an envelope / a letter / a piece of paper

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