English Prepositions: IN and ON

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600+ Confusing English Words Explained

in — inside

Use the preposition in to describe something that is inside an enclosed space with limits:

  • The books are in the box.
  • There are three people in the photo.
  • The rice is in the bowl.
  • I felt a pain in my stomach.
  • There are some interesting facts in the article.
  • The keys are in my pocket.

English Prepositions: IN and ON Espresso English

on — on a surface

Use the preposition on to describe something that is resting on a surface:

  • The books are on the table.
  • The photo is on the wall.
  • The rice is on the plate.
  • I have a tattoo on my leg.
  • There’s an error on page 5 of the article.
  • The T-shirt has a rainbow on it.

in — seasons, months, years

  • I like to ski in the winter.
  • My birthday is in September.
  • He was born in 1988.

on — days and dates

  • I have a doctor’s appointment on Thursday.
  • The semester begins on September 1st.
  • They met each other on New Year’s Eve.

English Prepositions: IN and ON Espresso English

in — neighborhoods, cities, states, countries

  • He bought a house in the city center.
  • I want to live in Miami.
  • Did you have a good time in California?
  • We have several friends in Germany.

on — street names

  • The bank is on Main Street.
  • I live on Market Avenue.

in — cars, taxis, trucks, vans

  • There were four people in the car.
  • The boxes are in the van.
  • Our group won’t fit in one taxi; we’ll have to take two.

on — boats, planes, trains, buses, bicycles

  • You need to get on the express bus.
  • He started feeling sick on the train.
  • I sat next to a celebrity on the plane.
  • She fell off the bicycle, but got right back on and kept riding.
  • We’ll have lunch on the boat.

Expressions with IN

  • in love
    Dan is in love with Amanda.
  • in trouble
    I got in trouble when I borrowed my mother’s jewelry without asking permission.
  • in a good/bad mood
    Stay away from Henry – he’s in a bad mood today.

Expressions with ON

  • on TV (or just “on”)
    My favorite show is on at 9 PM.
  • on hold = when you have to wait during a phone call
    What terrible customer service. I’ve been on hold for 30 minutes!
  • on my mind = when something is occupying your thoughts
    I can’t concentrate on my work because I have other problems on my mind.
  • on fire
    Don’t get too close to the flames; your clothes could catch on fire.
  • on drugs/medication
    She’s on medication to help treat her depression.

Learn more: How to use prepositional phrases with examples

Clear up your doubts about confusing words… and use English more confidently!

English Prepositions: IN and ON Espresso English

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