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.
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.
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.