I've been discussing the usage of "in Church Road" over "on Church Road" with my colleagues in a sentence such as "The supermarket is in Church Road". Whilst it is overwhelming clear that "on Church Road" is the favoured option in this discussion, it remains unclear as to whether the use of "in Church Road" is completely uncommon or incorrect in this context.

The case regarding "Church Street", we feel, is clearly a simple case of who is speaking, but "Church Road" is presenting us one or two problems.

Any help?


In British English, in is the preferred preposition. It specifies that the location is within the bounds or extent of the street, not actually buried in the tarmac.

I live in Church Road.

On is becoming more prevalent — probably because of the availability of American television and film — and it would certainly be understood. But it's just not the British way.

It's explicitly cited in OED:

I. Of position or location.
1. a. Of place or position in space or anything having material extension: Within the limits or bounds of, within (any place or thing).

May relate to a space of any size, however large or small: e.g. in the universe, in the world, in heaven, in hell, in the earth, in the sea (otherwise on the earth, on the sea, at sea), in a ship, vessel, in a field, wood, forest, desert, wilderness (but on a heath, moor, or common), in (U.S. on) a street, in a house, carriage, box, drawer, nut-shell, drop of water, etc.

  • This makes me think of the old rule about the difference between a road and a street: a road goes from one place to another; but a street is a place. So you might live on a road, but in a street. As it happens the piece of tarmac that runs past my front door is called 'xxx Road' and when I describe where I live it's always 'on xxx Road'; but if it were called 'xxx Street' I'd probably say I lived 'in xxx Street'. And yes, I live in the UK. – Charl E Dec 13 '16 at 13:39
  • It may also depend on the road name. In Church Road, but on the Andover Road (a major road so named because that's where it goes). – Andrew Leach Dec 13 '16 at 13:53
  • In America, if you insist on living in the street, you may not be living for long. – Doug Warren Dec 13 '16 at 17:39

I'm a native English speaker and I am working on my MA in Linguistics.

When referring to buildings, you should always say "on Church Street" or "on Church Road". Using "in" implies that the building is inside the road, which doesn't make a lot of sense.

  • I am sorely tempted to downvote the affirmation: ...you should always say "on Church Street"... Andrew leach's well supported answer, the OED no less, says otherwise. – Mari-Lou A Dec 14 '16 at 20:51
  • If we follow that logic, but in English there is no real logic, only good hunches, then we should say “Paris is on France”* (surely Paris lies on the surface of France not "inside"?) or He lives on the UK. I think (again just a hunch) that "in" is used in BrEng because a street can contain buildings just like a container, and for containers the preposition "in" is the most common. – Mari-Lou A Dec 14 '16 at 20:54

Very simple. "In Church Road" is British English; "On Church Road" is American English.

  • 2
    I'm afraid this adds nothing more to answers which were posted forty minutes before it. We also prefer corroboration for bald assertions. – Andrew Leach Dec 13 '16 at 12:03

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