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Prepositions of PLACE 👉 IN / ON / AT / BY 👈 Common English Grammar Mistakes

August 30, 2019


Hello! This is Emma from mmmEnglish, back with another lesson on the mmEnglish Youtube channel. Now in English, we say “The school is on Bay Street.” Not “The school is at Bay Street.” “They live at 10 Park Road.” Not “She lives in 10 Park Road.” “The museum is in the city.” Not “The museum is on the city.” “I live at 300 King Street, in an apartment, on the fourth floor.” These little words can cause lots of headaches if English is not your first language. They’re called prepositions and there are lots of them in English. In, on, at, by, with, for, over, under, of, to. They all help to give information about the time, location or direction in your English sentences. in, on, at and by In this lesson, we’ll take a closer look at these small but very common, very useful English words. And we’ll concentrate on how you can use them to give information about the place or location of something. Now, the bad news is that there’s no clear way of knowing which preposition you need to use. In fact, different prepositions can be used with the same words but this can change the meaning of your sentence. Am I at the car? At the location of the car? Am I in the car? Or am I on the car? All of these sentences are okay but the meaning is different in each question. Most of the time, you can’t just guess the correct preposition. It’s not really a good strategy to improve your English – unless you’re a really lucky person! The worst way to try and learn prepositions is to translate them from your native language. This can cause lots of problems. Prepositions must be learned in chunks of words or called collocations. Groups of words that are often used together. Like, “In the morning.” “At night.” “It depends on… (something)” “He’s keen on football.” Learning this way will help you to make fewer mistakes with prepositions. Instead, pay attention to how native speakers use these prepositions. How are they used in the newspaper articles that you read or stories? What words are they used with? And pay close attention to the general rules that I’ll teach you in this lesson, so that you can make the right choices when choosing prepositions of place. Let’s get started with “in” Now the best way to think about the preposition, “in” is being within something inside the edges of something. So let’s start really simply with containers or spaces that are enclosed. I’ve got the key in my pocket. There’s some milk in the fridge. She left it in the top drawer. There’s nothing left in my cup. Now, it’s easy to think about all of these examples as being inside something because the edges are really clear. You can see inside them. There’s a clear inside and an outside. Right? Take our earlier example, I’m in the car. The car has clear edges, I’m definitely inside the edges of the car. We can use “in” with buildings or rooms and places that can surround a person or an object on all sides. Can you take a seat in the waiting room please? I’ve left my bag in your office. Why don’t we have a picnic in the park? But there are lots of times when you need to use this preposition when the edges are less clear. So for example, with areas or regions or cities and towns. I’m filming this video in Spain. I grew up in Melbourne. Holidaying in France is easy if you speak French! Regolisa is a small village in the mountains. We’re going for a drive in the country. Lots of people were swimming in the lake. Now, all of these nouns have borders or edges, even if they’re not really obvious or clear. We can physically be located inside the edges of this space. Now when talking about groups of people, you can often use “in”. She works in the finance team, surrounded by people. He got selected to play in the national team. But there’s an exception for important high-level groups where members are often elected. He’s on the board. Or they’re on the committee, or on the council. We can also use “in” with liquids and other substances to show what they contain. Careful! There’s a lot of chilli in that sauce. There’s too much sugar in soft drinks. Do you have milk in your coffee? Now the preposition “on” is used to talk about the position of something on surfaces or things that can be thought-of as surfaces like walls or tables. My phone is on the table. You can see a painting on the wall behind me. We live on the fourth floor of the building. Can you write it on that piece of paper? He’s spilled ice cream on his new jumper! Now, keep thinking about this idea of flat surfaces because it includes roads and streets and rivers. The supermarket is on the corner of Martin Street. Nice is on the south coast of France. Now the idea of flat surfaces also includes water, so rivers, oceans, lakes. What’s that on the water? Floating on the water. We’ll take you out on the lake – in our boat. We’ll be on the lake, in our boat. Okay, now let’s talk about the preposition “at”. It’s used to talk about specific places or points in space. Sarah’s still at school. I’ll meet you at the bus stop. Turn left at the traffic light. Now it’s also used with public places and shops. For example, I studied design at college or school or university. Let’s meet at the station. We have to stop at the supermarket on the way home. There was a crazy guy at the library today. We also use it with addresses. They live at 14 Eagle Road. I’ll meet you at the corner of Beach Street and Park Road. I had a coffee at Helen’s house. At her house, right? Careful, not to confuse the preposition with another, “with”. I had a cup of coffee with Helen. That means Helen, the person, not Helen’s house. We can use “at” with events. We met at a party. He’s speaking at a conference later this week. So in all of these examples, the preposition “at” is used to talk about specific places or points in space. Okay I went through quite a few examples there, but let’s just stop and review the rules for a minute. “At” is one-dimensional. Think of a map. When you’re looking at a map, you’re referring to a specific place or position in space. “On” is more two-dimensional. You have a flat surface and you’re referring to the position of something or someone in relation to that surface. So you’re recognising the space around you a little more when you’re using that preposition. Now “in” is the sort of three-dimensional preposition. So when you use it, you need to think about the position of something in relation to what surrounds it. Now of course, there are grey areas and many exceptions that will make you scratch your head and wonder, what?! When you hear that expression, “grey areas” it means that something is unclear. It’s not black and it’s not white, it’s somewhere in the middle but we don’t know exactly where – it’s unclear. That’s a very common expression. Now there are many grey areas for prepositions when you’re talking about the place or the location of something. It’s on the corner. Or it’s at the corner. These two examples mean almost the same thing. The museum is on the south side of the city. So this expression, on the south side or on the right side or on the left side, it always uses the preposition “on”. Your seat is on the left side. Now I said before that Nice is on the south coast of France but Nice is also in the south of France. Now there is a difference here when we’re referring to the flat surface and the region or the area. So it’s that spatial difference. On the south coast or in the south of France. It’s a little hard to get your head around, right? But France is a space that has edges. It’s enclosed so we use “in”. I’ll see you at Melanie’s house. So that’s the place right? But I’ll meet you in the kitchen. It’s an enclosed room or enclosed space. I’ll meet you at the corner of Beach
Street and Park Road. I saw it in the corner of the room. So that’s an enclosed space, right? How about this one? Write it on the paper in your notebook, at the top of the page or in the corner. We say I’m in the car and I’m on the bus or the train. So there are also times when you can use two different prepositions and the meaning is actually really similar especially between “at” and “on” Sarah’s still in school. Or Sarah is still at school. Now these sentences mean almost exactly the same thing. “In” school suggests that Sarah is inside the school buildings. She’s a student, she’s learning there. “At” suggests that she’s at the location of the school but she could be inside a building or outside and she’s not necessarily a student either. She could be a parent visiting the school, for example. I think they’re at the beach Or I think they’re on the beach. “At the beach” is the place. “On the beach” means the sand. But you can’t use “in”. If you say “in” you need to use the water. You can be in the water. She’s in the sea. She’s in the lake. She’s in the water. One more two-lettered preposition to add to this lesson about place is “by”. I’m waiting by the car. Put your bag by the door and sit down. Here, “by” is used to mean next to something or beside or near. These are all prepositions that give us detail about the location of something. They live near the school. They live next to the school. They live by the school. So there are definitely a few confusing things about prepositions, right? To successfully learn to use prepositions really well, learn them with the words around them. Don’t try and learn them on their own. The general rules that we talked about during this lesson, will help you to make better choices – most of the time! Well I hope this lesson has helped to make a few things clearer for you. If you’ve got any questions at all, just pop them in the comments under this video. If you love this channel and you enjoy my lessons, then please make sure that you subscribe to my channel right here or here. And check out some of the other lessons that I’ve made in these playlists, right here. See you next week and thanks for watching mmmEnglish. Bye for now!

78 Comments

  • Reply ime essien July 29, 2019 at 7:29 pm

    I,m happy to be part of your teaching. Thank you.

  • Reply Laras Listiani July 29, 2019 at 9:55 pm

    How about 'off' and 'up' ?

  • Reply Yusrizal Ari July 30, 2019 at 3:06 am

    your so awesome

  • Reply Mehan Gleko July 30, 2019 at 2:18 pm

    Very nice……..

  • Reply muntaha water July 31, 2019 at 8:59 pm

    Amazing 💐..thank you .

  • Reply Evgeny Tsvelyak August 1, 2019 at 12:26 pm

    Hello Emma! Thank you very much for your lesson. You really help me to clear up with prep. You are amazing.

  • Reply Hossein Eini August 1, 2019 at 1:24 pm

    your the best

  • Reply Anyang Thiep August 1, 2019 at 2:23 pm

    I live at 17 Wadsworth street apartment 14. My house is between the bar, it's get noisy and crowded on Friday night. But it's all good. Thanks Teacher Emma ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

  • Reply FX Trading Team August 1, 2019 at 6:31 pm

    Great English videos, Emma! Congrats and thanks! They help us a lot for better understanding…Regards from Lima, Peru…Heinz

  • Reply لين السلامة August 2, 2019 at 7:31 am

    very nice……thank you a lot

  • Reply Ary Soso August 2, 2019 at 3:35 pm

    Really i enjoyed your lessons 😉

  • Reply Amro Amri August 2, 2019 at 4:06 pm

    thank you emma

  • Reply paul twum August 2, 2019 at 6:56 pm

    cool

  • Reply Davy Jones August 3, 2019 at 6:46 am

    This is a great explanation. This topic is so confusing. Thank you, now it's clearer in my mind.

  • Reply Chandan krdas August 3, 2019 at 3:22 pm

    Enjoying ur lessons.thx

  • Reply Johas Mejia August 3, 2019 at 3:32 pm

    I love you,thank you so much

  • Reply Johas Mejia August 3, 2019 at 3:37 pm

    You're the best❤❤😘😘

  • Reply MisterPunisher22 August 3, 2019 at 11:12 pm

    You're amazing! Thanks for this.

  • Reply Omar Hafud August 4, 2019 at 3:17 pm

    Plus your lecture is amazing, you are so beautiful and lovely. Thanks for much clarified way of teaching.

  • Reply Andrey Yablokov August 4, 2019 at 4:03 pm

    Thanks a lot.

  • Reply Pure Magic by FS August 4, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    you really work hard on the editing of the video!
    #thumbsup

  • Reply Ritchie Bercasio August 5, 2019 at 12:33 am

    I love you 😘

  • Reply Junaid Baig August 7, 2019 at 8:22 am

    The best English lesson I ever saw.

  • Reply shahd August 7, 2019 at 1:13 pm

    Thank you.

  • Reply Rustam Khan August 7, 2019 at 6:21 pm

    Good but fast…

  • Reply Moises Pineda August 8, 2019 at 2:05 am

    Beautiful princess!!!

  • Reply Joe Szabó August 8, 2019 at 10:30 am

    Thank you very much Emma! It(also) was very useful to (or for ?) me. I am Joe from Hungary.

  • Reply misganaw tolanie August 9, 2019 at 10:20 am

    thank you Emma ! for this helpful prepositions

  • Reply Yassine Khaled August 9, 2019 at 10:23 am

    Thanks for this lesson, see you next time.

  • Reply Narayan Singh August 9, 2019 at 11:09 am

    U are so amazing 💓💓💓

  • Reply abo hazim August 9, 2019 at 7:22 pm

    my question is :When I say “I have lived in this house for 10 years “Does this mean I don’t live in it anymore right now or what?

  • Reply Grateful Lally August 10, 2019 at 2:40 pm

    Wow, you explained it so well.

  • Reply C Manikandan August 10, 2019 at 6:51 pm

    'On the website say on Facebook on Youtube' was a confusing usage for me.

  • Reply Victor Lopez August 10, 2019 at 9:49 pm

    Teacher you're so cute

  • Reply Victor Lopez August 10, 2019 at 9:50 pm

    Teacher what i have to use when i show slides…on this slide or in this slide

  • Reply Linda Ismail August 11, 2019 at 4:28 am

    Please help me with this doubt
    I live in Cochin in Kerala
    I live at Cochin in Kerala
    Which is correct

  • Reply Injamul Sekh August 11, 2019 at 6:31 am

    i am not undetstand this launge

  • Reply elmar aliyev August 11, 2019 at 8:52 am

    I am sorry, i dont Understand here (3:53), She left it in the top drawer —- this is means>> She take something from top drawer..clear?

  • Reply Patrik Stakem August 11, 2019 at 5:03 pm

    Im a native English speaker (I teach english abroad and was watching your video for ideas for this same lesson) and actually learned something, haha. I naturally know which of the prepositions to use, but had no idea what the rules were

  • Reply osamudiamen ejiagbonlamhen August 12, 2019 at 4:19 am

    COMMON SENSE.

  • Reply Witek Robert August 12, 2019 at 7:52 am

    OMG gorgeus face

  • Reply Sahil Geiger August 12, 2019 at 9:02 pm

    Superb!!

  • Reply Eder fernando August 14, 2019 at 6:53 pm

    Você é linda demais. You are is very very Beautiful… y love you Emma

  • Reply Oly Bellen August 15, 2019 at 10:24 pm

    I really like this video, I learned a lot. So informative. Thank you so much… 😊

  • Reply ali veli August 16, 2019 at 2:36 am

    English is headache. No language is easy though

  • Reply Yatt Izaham August 16, 2019 at 7:08 am

    Thank you, Emma. It is a very helpful video. Now I see the distinctions between all those prepositions. Love from Malaysia! ❤

  • Reply Shah Xad August 17, 2019 at 6:17 pm

    Thank U

  • Reply Shiv Mohan Singh Rajput August 18, 2019 at 11:25 am

    Hey madam i'm from 🇮🇳 india 🇮🇳 i can't speak English but i'm understand everything what you are saying
    Nice to meet you. 🇮🇳Jay Hind 🇮🇳

  • Reply Gaurav Butola August 18, 2019 at 2:31 pm

    Gracious Emaa..

  • Reply Moulid Farah August 18, 2019 at 11:26 pm

    Hi, Thank you for your support and teaching preparation. I has really helped me this lesson.

    I would like to ask do you do online teaching?
    Thank you

  • Reply amit_ murmu August 19, 2019 at 12:50 pm

    One thing I learnt from all these is you can't learn or understand English completely just from a class or online course. You also have to understand the English culture because English is all about "context". Same sentence could mean different in different context, you just have to understand the culture how they use the "sentences" in different situations. For an Indian it is sometimes difficult to understand the usage of certain phrases in different situations. I always wondered " why do they use this phase in this situation? " . Then I understood; it's how the English culture is. And the culture builds the structure of the sentence. If I would learn Italian, may be I would have learnt it faster.

  • Reply Sara Seif August 19, 2019 at 2:32 pm

    Don't you think Emma your explanation about in school and at school was vice versa?

  • Reply E & M August 19, 2019 at 3:18 pm

    Thank you ,you are the best ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

  • Reply YOF AZI August 19, 2019 at 10:11 pm

    Mmm English…… I like that

  • Reply English ustad August 21, 2019 at 4:09 am

    👌👌👌👌👏👏👏

  • Reply Max Andre Almeida August 21, 2019 at 12:18 pm

    Great class Emma!

  • Reply okunowo lateefat August 21, 2019 at 5:00 pm

    Hi Emma, am an English studies teacher in Nigeria. I love all your videos. They're so educating.

  • Reply Asad khan August 21, 2019 at 6:41 pm

    Thanks Emma your English grammar is really helping me

  • Reply Subhashini Godagama August 22, 2019 at 3:32 am

    You are an amazing teacher. Thank you Emma.

  • Reply ppp ggg August 22, 2019 at 7:25 am

    You are wonderful i understand what you say although im arabic

  • Reply Mary Ellen Fernandez August 22, 2019 at 8:53 am

    You teach so clearly. Im loving you already😘

  • Reply Dan Kris Ferrer August 22, 2019 at 7:07 pm

    Could you explain about the sentence you said: in the corner of the page (of the book) why is it not "ON" the corner of the page? Thanks

  • Reply Waseem Mughal August 23, 2019 at 2:54 am

    Best tesching and explain Love for you
    From Pakistan

  • Reply Emily kozikoglu August 23, 2019 at 5:21 am

    💎💎💎💎💎💫💫💫💫💫

  • Reply Cristina Mota August 23, 2019 at 10:41 am

    Excellent way of explaining the prepositions, which I would never have known how to put it in better terms. Thank you, very helpful.

  • Reply youssef123 12345678zx August 23, 2019 at 12:00 pm

    please translate the fidio to the arabic

  • Reply Hadroug Ali August 23, 2019 at 12:10 pm

    Hello Emma are you mariage .

  • Reply Marcos Antonio De Barros August 23, 2019 at 8:35 pm

    You're such an agreeable person. Your friends must adore you!

  • Reply omar khaled August 24, 2019 at 12:14 am

    thanks my thechr you are very kind and buteful and gorgs to i lave you

  • Reply sachin sharma sachin sharma August 24, 2019 at 5:35 pm

    Hello ma'am plz. Make a video for TENSES.
    I LIKE THE WAY YOU TEACH.
    THANK YOU.

    FROM INDIA

  • Reply Eduardo Passos August 25, 2019 at 1:37 pm

    Perfect explanation! Thanks a lot

  • Reply Queen 123 August 25, 2019 at 6:10 pm

    thank u for Serbian title. You are the best❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

  • Reply Dale N August 26, 2019 at 11:52 am

    Still useful for me as a native English speaker at 1.25x speed

  • Reply James elangovan James elangovan August 26, 2019 at 4:00 pm

    Thank you. God bless you.

  • Reply Oumar Fofana August 26, 2019 at 11:18 pm

    Thanks once more! You're making my holidays special

  • Reply aquadotnets August 27, 2019 at 8:21 am

    Nicely done 👍

  • Reply Sarad Bista August 29, 2019 at 1:13 pm

    ur so cute ..i love ur video thank so mhh

  • Reply Etelvino França August 29, 2019 at 2:09 pm

    Thank you teacher Emma! Your lesson help me a lot!!! Frequentely, I hear the lessons in my car after to convert one to mp3! Congratulations !!!

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