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Lesson 3.1

Prepositions

Las preposiciones
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As in many languages, prepositions are perhaps the most difficult part of grammar to learn because direct translation is often impossible. Prepositions can be translated differently depending on the situation or context of their use. It is therefore recommended that the student memorize the different types and uses of the various prepositions, depending on their relationship to the object in the sentence (place, time, movement/direction). As we will see, many of the prepositions can be used in various contexts (place, time or movement/direction).

Note: Prepositions are always followed by a noun, not a verb (except in the gerund form).

In / At / On

Among the most common prepositions are “in”, “at”, and “on”. These three prepositions can be used to indicate either place or time.

IN

Use (place): “In” is used to indicate both open and closed spaces. We use this preposition to indicate that something is included within the limits of something, a closed space or the interior of something in a physical sense. As we can see from the following examples, “in” can also be used to indicate the geographical location of something.

Examples:

 I live in Brighton.
 The cat is in the box.
 I found your address in the phone book.
 My parents arrive in France on Monday.

Use (time):In” is used with months, years, periods of time, seasons and parts of the day.

Examples:

 We went to Mexico in May.
 I always run in the mornings.
 I will see him in a week.
 She was born in 1976.

AT

Use (place): “At” is used in front of buildings such as “home”, “the airport”, “university”. It is also used before “top”, “bottom” and “the end of”, as well as to indicate events such as meetings, parties, concerts, sports events, etc. “At” is also used after the verb “arrive” when we are referring to places other than cities or countries.

Examples:

 He is at home.
 I always visit my sister at work.
 We eat at the table.
 She will see him at the theatre.
 Her name is at the bottom of the page.
 When did you arrive at the airport?

Use (time): We use “at” before the hour or holidays.

Examples:

 He runs every morning at 6.
 I will see them at Christmas.

ON

Use (place): “On” is used with surfaces, when we are referencing a location within a room, such as the ceiling or the wall, or to indicate that someone is inside a mode of transport or on the floor of a building.

Examples:

 The pen is on the table.
 They have a photograph of Paris on the wall.
 I am on the bus.
 Her apartment is on the second floor.

Use (time):On” is used with days of the week, dates and holidays.

Examples:

 They went to Mexico on the first of May.
 He runs on Mondays and Fridays.
 I will see Luis on his birthday.
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