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Place Prepositions

Created by Malcolm Pemberton

Most Place Prepositions are Logical!

On:

I am sitting on a chair.

My office is on the second floor.

There are several books on my desk.

My bag is on the floor.

On one wall I have a big pin-up board.

There are several charts and pictures on the board.

The light switch is on the wall.

There is a fire-safety notice on the door.

He had a smile on his face.

There was a lot of mud on his boots.

Quiet! I’m speaking on the phone.

There’s a good movie on TV tonight.

From the song: ”I was standing on the corner, watching all the girls go by”. (Outside corner)

Patrick is on the bus/train/tram/plane/ship to Helsinki. (Note: All public transport)

In:

I am in a taxi on my way to the airport. (A taxi is private transport)

I’m in my car, on my way to work.

There is a cupboard in the corner. (Inside corner)

All my files are in the cupboard.

There are four floors in this building.

The key is in the lock. – The key is in the door.

The milk is in the fridge in the kitchen.

He stood there with a gun in his hand.

There is a stone in my shoe.

I have a hole in my pocket; that’s where the money goes.

We have a sauna in the basement.

We store a lot of things in the attic.

At – the preposition with purpose:

We were standing at the window watching the rain outside.

We were standing at the door, waiting to go in.

(If we were just standing by the door or window, it only indicates position.)

The Hogwarts’ Express arrives at Platform 9¾.

Where’s Mum? She’s at the airport. (Probably flying somewhere, clarify if not.)

The train arrives at Vaasa at 17:30.

Where’s Dad? He’s still at the office. (Working)

Where’s Sally? She’s at school. (Learning)

Where’s Sally’s mum? She’s at the school. (Talking to the teacher)

Where is Henry? He is at work. (Working)

Special Meanings:

(Get these right to avoid shock!)

Dr Smith is a prison doctor, he works at the prison.

Light-fingered Lefty is a thief, he’s in prison for four years.

Lavinda is Lefty’s sister, she’s at the prison visiting Lefty.

Dr Brown is a surgeon, she works at the hospital.

Mr Hill has broken his leg and is in hospital, as a patient.

Mrs Hill is at the hospital visiting her husband.

Into – onto

(You often don’t need these, but they add a sense of movement and direction.)

I put my clothes into my suitcase – or – I put my clothes in my suitcase.

I put my suitcase onto the bed – or – I put my suitcase on the bed.

but

The wind blew my hat off into/onto the road. (Cannot use ‘in’ or ‘on’)

By/next to/beside:

(by/next to/beside are very close in meaning – if in doubt, use ‘next to’)

The examples below simply sound the most natural.

The light switch is by the door.

The library is next to the swimming pool.

There is a pen beside the phone.

There was a strange man standing beside me at the bus-stop.

The car next to mine in the car park had been broken into.

Under – underneath – beneath

(‘Beneath’ is rarely used. If in doubt use ‘under’.)

Idiom: ‘Getting one’s feet under the table’ can mean getting too much at-home in someone’s house.

The boat was able to pass easily underneath the bridge. (movement)

He has a team of 15 people working under him.

File Mr Smith under ’employees’. (Literally – under the heading of..)

Has the cleaner been? There is a lot of dust under the table.

I slid my suitcase under the bed.

I stood under the shower.

Above – over

Use above when something is placed higher than something else, but not actually on it.

Use over when something moves above something else, from one side to the other. There can be contact.

(These rules are not set in stone, just an easy way to remember.)

For example:

There is a clock above the door. (You can say ‘over’, but let’s keep it simple.)

The kitchen lamp is hanging above the table.

A plane circled above the town – but – a plane flew over the town (from one side to the other).

Yesterday I drove over Replot bridge, the view was fantastic! (cannot use above)

The wind blew my hat off into the road. Before I could pick it up, a car drove over it. (contact)

From the song: Somewhere over the rainbow. (on the other side)

Between

(This is easy – one thing on one side, and one thing on the other side.)

I was sitting between two of my friends on the back seat of the bus.

The library is between the swimming pool and the school.

The shopping list was hidden between two magazines.

In front of – behind

(Another easy one…)

There is parking space in front of the swimming pool, and also behind it.

There were ten people in front of me in the queue at the bank.

The baseball ground is behind the swimming pool.

There is a fountain in front of the Town Hall.

Opposite – across from – on the other side of

The cinema is across the road from the supermarket. (on the other side of the road)

The cinema is opposite the supermarket. (on the other side of the road, square etc)

The new staff member was sitting opposite me at lunch. (on the other side of the table)

She waved to me from the other side of the road.

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