When do we use in, on and at?

Use in when the place is all around something.

My hamster is in his cage.

My hamster is in his cage.

IN is often used with buildings, rooms, towns, cities and countries (also films, books and songs). 

  • He's in England.
  • He's in the supermarket.
  • It's in a forest.
  • The picture is in this book.

We also say in the middle or in the centre (of something).


Use on when there is a surface underneath.

My hamster is on the table.

My hamster is on the table.

ON is often used with flat surfaces (the walls, the floor, the beach) but also furniture (the table, the bed) and the body (your back, your face).

  • There's a picture on the wall.
  • My bag is on the chair.
  • He had a parrot on his shoulder.
  • I sat on the grass.

We also say on the left / right.


Use at with buildings and "points in space".

My hamster is at the vet.

My hamster is at home.

AT is often used with points in space, addresses and buildings (especially with the verbs arrive, meet and wait).

  • I arrived at 45 North Street.
  • I met him at the station.
  • I waited at the old oak tree.
  • Mum's at the bank.

We also say at the top / bottom and at school / work / home


 In and at can be very similar sometimes:

I'll meet you at the airport.

I'll meet you in the airport.

IN the airport emphasises inside the building. AT the airport could also mean outside it (at the entrance).


Choose the best preposition of place (in, on or at) to complete these sentences.

  1. I'll meet you the station.
  2. I enjoy sunbathing the beach.
  3. I like swimming the sea.
  4. I hung the picture the wall.
  5. I slept the classroom.
  6. I slipped a banana skin.
  7. I work a hospital.
  8. Sorry - I sat your hat.
  9. I found some money my purse.
  10. I arrived  the cinema ten minutes late.