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This week’s blog is about prepositions. These words are often difficult for students to learn how to use, mainly because the use of a preposition depends on things such as location when speaking, the size of the thing you are speaking about or how you do the action.

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Two prepositions that are often confused are ‘in’ and ‘on’. People often say “I am sitting in the chair”, but this is a mistake. You should say “I am sitting on the chair”. This is because of your position and the size of the object. The chair does not completely surround you, therefore you are not ‘in’ it, you are ‘on’ it.
Another common mistake is saying ‘arrive in’ or ‘arrive at’. We arrive in an area, whereas we arrive at a point. For example, we say “I arrived in Paris this afternoon” and we say “I arrived at the hotel at 9.00 p.m”. Paris is a city, which is an area and a hotel is a place, which is a point, therefore we must say ‘in’ for Paris and ‘at’ for the hotel.
A lot of students say “I am going at home” or “I am going to home”, but these are wrong. We don’t use a preposition with ‘home’. We say “I am going home”; there is no preposition.

We say I’m standing “in” the corner of the room but we say I’m standing “at” the corner of the table. This can be for two reasons. Number one is that the corner of the room is an area of the room and number two  is that it is much bigger than you, therefore you are “in” it, whereas the corner of the table is a point and you are bigger than it so we say “at” the corner of the table.

We “get in” a car and “get out of” a car, or a van, a truck or a lorry but we “get on” and “get off” a bus, a train, a ship, a boat, a motorbike, a bicycle or an aeroplane. This is mainly due to the size of the vehicle. For example, when you are on a bus, you can stand “on” it and be completely contained by the vehicle, whereas a car or a truck would be smaller and therefore you sit “in” it, even though a truck is very big, the part where you sit is not that big. With bikes in general you sit “on” them, not “in” them.


To practice what you’ve learned, try the exercise!

G. Harman

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