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English, French, and Math Support: Prepositions of place

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Prepositions of place

  1. The preposition at is often used to describe an action that occurs in a single place. 
  • I always run at the gym. 
  • At the beginning of the text, the author foreshadows Jon’s disappearance. 
  • We waited at the bus stop for hours, but not a single bus arrived. 
  1. At is also used to show a target. 
  • This project is aimed at increasing revenues. 
  • I swatted at the fly with the flyswatter, but I missed. 
  • The debate essentially consisted of the participants hurling insults at each other. 
  1. At is also used for addresses that include a street number, and to denote some specific locations. 
  • Marianopolis College is located at 4873 Westmount Avenue. 
  • Do you remember the name of the store at 77 Maisonneuve? 
  • There is a restaurant at the top of this hotel. 
  • The image of the ship rotting at the bottom of the sea was very poignant. 


  1. To is used to show direction and movement. 
  • People who show signs of a stroke should be taken to the hospital immediately. 
  • In the final scene, the forest comes to Elsinore, just as the witches had predicted. 
  • To the victor go the spoils. 

Exceptions: She wanted to go home. NOT *She wanted to go to home. 

Notice that at is used differently from to

  I always run at the gym.  (I use the treadmill, for example) 
vs. I always run to the gym.  (I get to the gym by running there from home)
  He threw it at me.      (He attacked me with some object) 
vs. He threw it to me. (He passed it to me by throwing it)


  1. In can be used to talk about a print source. This could be something such as a book, magazine, or picture, or an electronic version of these things, such as an e-book, online article, or jpeg. 
  • In the play, there are several allusions to traditional fairy tales. 
  • We read about this case in an online journal. 
  • The painting had a horse-and-carriage in it. 
  1. In can also describe something or someone located in a container or place. 
  • There are bacteria growing in the petri dish. 
  • Is the advisor still in her office? 
  • In his heart, he knew the truth. 
  1. To talk about countries, regions, provinces, states, cities, or buildings, use in
  • Contrary to popular belief, it can be very cold in the desert. 
  • The socioeconomic opportunities afforded to women in Nicaragua differ substantially to those enjoyed by women in Sweden. 
  • J.K. Rowling apparently wrote most of the Harry Potter series in a café in Edinburgh, Scotland. 


  1. The preposition on can describe something located on a surface. 
  • Thomson writes, “A look of disgust was etched on Jules’ face.” 
  • There’s a scratch on the window. 
  • That office is on the first floor of this building. 
  1. On is used also for addresses without a street number. 
  • The accident occurred on Sherbrooke Street. 
  • Is there a Couche-Tard on the way to the library? 
  • Have you noticed the new condos going up on Decarie? 
  1. You can use on to describe a non-print source. Such sources include things such as the Internet, a blog, television, or the radio. 
  • It is essential to verify information found on the Internet. 
  • War of the Worlds was performed so realistically on the radio that some listeners legitimately believed Earth was under attack from Martians. 
  • On television, viewers see a very limited number of representations of First Nations people. 


  1. In the film Citizen Kane, the word “rosebud” is a recurring motif. 
  2. There are often between three and five verses in most contemporary songs. 

Prepositions of place -- Exercises

Read the following sentences, and fill in the blanks with the correct prepositions. Write the number of the corresponding rule above it. Finally, write another sentence that utilizes the same rule. 

  1. The house ____ 692 Killington is a recurring symbol of horror and degradation.

  2. Regina pointed her revolver ____ Max, her hand shaking.

  3. The characters ____ Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” are unusually complex for a novella-length work.

  4. The level of writing is utterly unmatched ____ network television.

  5. The wedding ceremony was conducted ____ the beach.

  6. The film draws parallels between the lives of three people; one ____ the southern United States, one ____ northern Bhutan, and one ____ Sydney, Australia.

  7. The virologists shipped the samples ____ another lab, but they didn’t arrive as expected.

  8. I imagine she dropped her keys somewhere ____ Sunset Boulevard.

  9. The author claims it was impossible to “miss the expression of joy frozen ____ his face.”

  10.  ____ the wooden box was a greeting card written in a strange language.

Prepositions of place -- Printable format

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