Prepositions are words that show the relationship between two things in a sentence. In English, prepositions of place show the location of something. The five most common prepositions of place in English are: “in,” “on,” “at,” “by,” and “near.” In this article we will use a cat and where it is located in a house to help show what these locations are.
The preposition “in” is used to show that something is inside a container or enclosed space. For example:
- The cat is in the bedroom.
- She put the keys in her bag.
- I live in a big city.
Let’s look at our cat. He is “in” an enclosed space, a bedroom.
The preposition “on” is used to show that something is in a position above something else, touching its surface. For example:
- The cat is on the bed.
- He put his jacket on the chair.
- The bird is on the branch.
Our cat is still “in” the bedroom. However, it has now moved to be “on” the bed. It is above the bed and touching its surface.
The preposition “at” is used to show a general place or location. For example:
- The cat is “at” home.
- She works at a school.
- They are at the concert.
The cat have moved from the bedroom to the living room. It is still in the house that it lives in. The cat is “at” home.
“In” vs “At”
These two prepositions can be confusing for English learners since they have similar meanings. The difference is that “in” requires that something is containing the item. For example, the cat has been “in” different rooms. The rooms have walls. They are an enclosed location.
The cat is also “at” home. The expression “at home” means you are physically located where you live. It is a general area. If you are outside your house enjoying a nice afternoon, you are still “at” home even if you are not “in” the building.
“By” and “Near”
The prepositions “by” and “near” are used to show that something is next to or close to something else. Both words mean the same thing. For example:
- The cat is “by” the oven. OR The cat is “near” the oven.
- She stood by the window.
- The shop is by the park.