Grammar, Prepositions, Vocabulary

In, On, or At? Preposition Rules for Transportation, Location, Time, and Media

ESL students sometimes feel lost when using the prepositions in, on, and at. Fortunately, there are a few rules you can follow. Prepositions can be learned by topic: transportation, location, time, and technology. Learn preposition rules by topic to get you back on the map.



For transportation, remember the following guidelines:


Use IN for private transportation.

  • in a car
  • in a truck
  • in a taxi
  • in an Uber
  • in a small boat or kayak


use ON for public transportation.

  • on the bus
  • on a plane
  • on a ship or cruise
  • on a train
  • on the subway
  • on the trolley

Use ON for things that one person can sit or stand on.

  • on a bicycle
  • on a motorcycle
  • on a horse
  • on a surfboard
  • on a skateboard


Use AT for places where you wait for transport.

  • at the bus stop
  • at the taxi stand
  • at the airport
  • at the train station
  • at a stop sign
  • at an intersection
  • at a crosswalk
Photo by Catarina Sousa on



Think of IN for enclosed spaces and places with borders, like rooms, towns, cities, counties, states, countries, and continents.

  • in the kitchen
  • in Sydney
  • in Australia
  • in the south
  • in the world
  • in the universe

Use IN for geographical locations and bodies of water (if you’re swimming.)

  • in the mountains
  • in the forest
  • in the desert
  • in the water
  • in the lake
  • in the ocean


Use ON for street names, borders, and floors of buildings.

  • on 10th Ave.
  • on the border
  • on the coast
  • on the first floor
  • on the roof

Use ON for surfaces.

  • on the ground
  • on the floor
  • on the wall
  • on the beach (if you’re tanning.)


Use AT for specific locations and places of business.

  • at the supermarket
  • at the beach
  • at the library
  • at the zoo
  • at the restaurant
  • at the mall
  • at home




Use IN for enclosed time periods.

  • in December
  • in the summer
  • in 1997
  • in the ’90s
  • in the summer, winter, etc.
  • in the morning
  • in the afternoon
  • in the evening


Use ON for specific days, dates, and holidays.

  • on Monday
  • on weekends
  • on January 22
  • on my birthday
  • on Christmas
  • on vacation


Use AT for times of the day.

  • at 6:00pm
  • at midnight (12 am)
  • at lunchtime (12 pm)
  • at night (but in the morning, in the afternoon, and in the evening)




Use IN for paper media.

  • in a book
  • in a newspaper
  • in a magazine
  • in a dictionary
  • in a journal
  • in the comments
  • in a blog post


Use ON for electronic media and technology.

  • on the internet
  • on tv
  • on the radio
  • on the phone
  • on social media
  • on facebook, instagram, WhatsApp, etc.


Use AT or the @ symbol for

  • websites
  • url’s
  • emails

Ready to practice? Get the In, On, At Prepositions PDF worksheet here.

I hope you learned a lot about prepositions from this lesson! Let me know if it helped you in the comments below, and don’t forget to like and subscribe for more great English Learning lessons.

Grab a visual chart for prepositions in, on, at, and to here.

3 thoughts on “In, On, or At? Preposition Rules for Transportation, Location, Time, and Media”

  1. This information is really interesting and helpful 🙂 I speak spanish, so these prepositions are kind of difficult for me. Thank you!


    1. I’m so glad it helped you! I’m learning Spanish, and it’s the same for me- with “para” and “por”. 🙂



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