When should I use On/In/At?

I was In/At School? In/At Home? See you On/In/At Monday? I left the book In/At my parent's house?

Other use cases I cn't think of right now?

And why is there a distinction?


  • Hi Gulzar, welcome to EL&U. Your question belongs on our beginner/novice site English Language Learners. Follow the link and post your question there, not forgetting to delete the one here. ell.stackexchange.com – Lordology Dec 22 '18 at 15:41
  • 2
    THERE IS NO RULE. You'll need to learn each case - and for some of them, it will depend what part of the world you are in. (at school in the UK in school in the US). The choice of prepositions is one of the most distinctive and inexplicable features of a particular language. There are families of similar cases, but no general rule. – Colin Fine Dec 22 '18 at 21:52

There're a lot of different phrases where we have to use on, in, at.

Quite often it's difficult to predict the use of these prepositions there.

The most general rule (but not absolute) is:

Define the location of the object.

If it is on some surface, use 'ON' (ON the wall/ floor/ table/ ceiling/ platform/ etc.).

If it is in some volume (space), use 'IN' (IN the office/ room/ box/ corner/ sun/ rain/ etc.).

If it is neither in nor on smth, use 'AT' (AT home/ work/ the airport/ the hotel/ etc.).

This general rule helps rather often.

For example, we can differentiate:

ON Cuba (as an island) and IN Cuba (as a country)

IN the corner (as space) and AT the corner (as a meeting place)

IN the (high) grass and ON the (cut) grass

IN the book (inside it, between pages) and ON the book (its cover)

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