Damn, Writer. Back at it again with the prepositions.
We’ve been through the basics of time and when to use which preposition to describe it. But as we all know, prepositions are not just for when; they’re also for where.
And so we arrive at that question again: “Is it in, on, or at?”
To get past this question, when thinking of prepositions of time, writers must decide what they want to talk about first.
Prepositions of place allow writers to refer to the location of something or someone. There are three main prepositions of place—in, on, and at—the same ones used for time. However, they can be used to discuss an almost endless number of places.
The preposition at is used to discuss a certain point, such as in “I met her at the entrance” and “It’s hidden at the bottom,” and other particular places where one does something typical, such as “She saw me at the movies” and “We fought at work today.” It is also used for specific addresses, such as in “Go to her at 21 Oxford Street.”
The preposition on is used to discuss surfaces, such as in “Your book is on my bed” and “I made the painting on the wall.” It is also used to indicate in which direction a thing is placed, such as in “Her store is the one on the right,” and which floor something is on, such as in “My apartment is on the eighth floor.”
The preposition in is used to discuss enclosed spaces, such as in “I don’t want to see what is in the box,” “I have your picture in my wallet,” and “She’s waiting for you in the car.” It also specifies general geographic spaces, such as in “I studied literature in London” and “There are no more ninjas in Japan.”
To remember which preposition to use, as with prepositions of time, writers could use the word atoning as a mnemonic device: at is used for the most specific places, on for less specific places, and in for general places. Don’t get them mixed up, or you’ll be atoning for your sins. No joke.
Simple things such as two-lettered prepositions have a huge impact on writers’ manuscripts. It shows how much attention they pay to little details, and sometimes that’s all that matters. Fortunately for them, they do not have to go through this alone. They can always enlist the help of editors to look over their manuscripts and make sure that grammar rules, no matter how basic, are being followed.
Are you confused with these words and the rules that govern them? The 1-Hour Proofreading team will be happy to help you out.
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