Prepositions are some of the most difficult aspects of English for many language learners: especially English prepositions of location such as AT, ON, and IN. (These are also called prepositions of place.) Learn how to use them properly to avoid confusion! Since CISL offers English courses in San Diego and San Francisco, we can’t think of a better way to practice English prepositions of location than to use examples of these prepositions in relation to something every Californian loves: the beach!
English Prepositions of Location (AT, ON, and IN)
English uses AT, ON, and IN for prepositions of location.
The preposition AT can be used for a location, to show a destination, and to show a direction that something moved.
- I’m at the store. Do you need anything?
- I will call you when I’m at home.
- Meet me at the coffee shop in Little Italy.
For a destination:
- We will arrive at the final stop soon.
- I thought the drive would be long, but before I knew it, we were at home!
For a direction:
- Why are you looking at me?
- In dodgeball, you have to throw the ball at the other players to try to hit them. (Notice how this is different than throwing a ball TO someone. When you throw a ball TO someone, they try to catch it. When you throw a ball AT someone, you are trying to hit them!)
The preposition ON is used when we speak about the surface of a space. Imagine that something is on top of an area, not inside.
- I was tanning on the beach when I saw dolphins!
- I spilled coffee on my shirt.
- They put some plants on the walkway of the house.
- I was jumping on the bed and I fell.
The preposition IN is used when we speak about the area of a space. Imagine that something is inside of a space or area.
- I am in my room.
- She is still sleeping in her bed.
- She won’t be in the office this week. She is sick.
Practice: IN or ON?
The prepositions IN and ON are often confused. Try this lesson to see if you understand the difference. Remember: when choosing the preposition, ask yourself if it is inside of a space or on top of a space.
- CISL is located __________ San Francisco and San Diego.
- The San Francisco location is __________ the top floor of a building.
- The school is also located __________ Market Street.
- Some students live __________ a hotel __________ San Francisco.
- The school is __________ Market Street; Market Street is __________ the Financial District.
- The other campus is __________ San Diego.
- The school is __________ a modern building.
- The building is __________ Broadway.
The answers are at the bottom of this page.
SF’s Best Beaches
San Diego gets all the credit for having beautiful beaches, but the truth is that all of California offers stunning coastline! Have you explored these five beaches that we consider to be SF’s best?
Surfers love Ocean Beach for its strong waves, and locals love it because it is a place where they have beach bonfires. Ocean Beach is also the perfect place to watch the sun set in SF!
How to get there:
Take the 5R bus to the La Playa and Fulton St. stop.
Baker Beach provides visitors with a beautiful view of the famous Golden Gate Bridge. Yes, the beach is also a nude beach, but locals know that it is so much more: because fewer people visit Baker Beach than Ocean Beach, it’s a much quieter and more peaceful place for relaxing. Many couples come to Baker Beach to take their engagement or wedding photos, which prove that it’s a romantic beach spot!
How to get there:
Take bus 7 to Lincoln Way and 21st Ave,; transfer to the 29 Baker Beach bus and get off at Lincoln Blvd. and Bowley Ave.
Aquatic Park is actually a protected beach and swimming area in the San Francisco Bay. The protective cove makes it a safe place to swim, and Alcatraz and Marin are beautiful backdrops to your day at the beach. The best part? Across the street from the beach is Ghirardelli Square, so visitors have a delicious option for post-swimming dining!
How to get there:
Take bus 47 to Fishermen’s Wharf. Get off at Van Ness and North Point St.
- CISL is located IN San Francisco and San Diego. (The school is inside the area of San Diego and San Francisco.)
- The San Francisco location is ON the top floor of a building. (The school is located on top of
- The school is also located ON Market Street.)
- Some students live IN a hotel IN San Francisco. (The students live inside of the hotel; the hotel is located inside of the area of San Francisco.)
- The school is ON Market Street; Market Street is IN the Financial District. (The school is on the area of Market street and is located inside of the area of the Financial District.)
- The other campus is IN San Diego. (The school is inside the area of San Diego.)
- The school is IN a modern building. (The school is inside of a building.)
- The building is ON Broadway. (The school is on the area of Broadway St.)