Prepositions of Location and Their Usage in English Language

We all know that a preposition is a word that is combined with a noun or pronoun to give further description in terms of time, place or direction. Prepositions of location are words that are used to describe the place where a certain object is at a certain time. For you to achieve in identification of prepositions of direction, then you have to ensure that you answer the question where.

You need to ask yourself that question and go back to your sentence, and once you get an answer to your question, then that is probably the preposition that we are talking about at this moment. As we had seen earlier in and on are also classified as prepositions of direction depending on how they are sued in a sentence. It is good to identify how different preposition have been used in a sentence because it helps you to understand the sentence well.

Also, note that certain preposition may be used more than once when it comes to its classifications. The main prepositions of location known are: in, on and at but there are other prepositions that are derivatives of the same that also describe a location. Prepositions of location are used to describe the namely location of objects in a sentence. Namely place, is the name of the location or position of the object.

How to identify prepositions of location

You need to know that preposition of location majors on description of the position or place that the noun occupies in a sentence. Once you are able to identify these prepositions, then you are good to go because you will not confuse it at any time once again. Most people do confuse preposition of location with the prepositions of direction.

The difference between the two is in what they describe. The prepositions of direction are associated with motion, so it describes the direction of the movement whereas the prepositions of location are associated with the final destination of the object at a particular time. The object, in this case, is usually stationary.

Types of prepositions of location

There are three main prepositions of location, i.e., on, in and at. Each of these prepositions has a different meaning when used in a sentence. It is good to understand the definition of each and its application.


‘At’ is a preposition of location that is used to specify the point where an object or person is at the moment. It indicates an exact position of an object. (To indicate means to show) Examples of its use in a sentence;

  • The police officers are waiting at the junction. (this indicates the exact position where the police are waiting)
  • The baby was eating at the dining room. (From this phrase we can see that the baby’s position is the dining room)
  • The accident occurred at the flyover. (we can be able to know the exact spot where the accident occurred, and that is the flyover.
  • Joshua works at the bank. (the location where Joshua works is the bank)


‘In’ is a preposition of location that is used to describe an enclosed space. It tells us that the noun is covered everywhere by something hence inside. Below are some of the examples:

  • The ball is in the box. (the ball is enclosed by the box hence its position is in the box)
  • The FIFA president is currently in the country. (here the president is enclosed within the         boundaries of the country thus his position is in the country.)
  • My sister is sleeping in her room. (here we get to know the position of the person)
  • The manager is driving in his car. (the manager is enclosed in the car while driving)

Most people may confuse prepositions of direction with the preposition of location at this point and what you need to know is that prepositions of location describe a stationary position of an object. A good example that may confuse is: the snake is going into the cave. In this example, you can confuse the preposition ‘into’ to mean location, but it indicates the direction. Prepositions of location usually describe the final position of the object.


This preposition indicates a position that is open and on the surface. You should use ‘on’ when the object being described is in contact with something on the surface. Below are its examples:

  • The phone is on the table. (here we see that the position of the phone is on the surface of the table and the two are in contact)
  • The shoes are on the floor. (the floor is the surface and the shoe is on it)
  • The bird is on the roof of the house. (the position of the bird is on top of the roof)
  • The baby is sleeping on the bed. (this means that the baby is sleeping on the surface of the bed.)

Besides these prepositions that we have seen other prepositions are also used to describe a location. These prepositions are derivatives of the main prepositions: on, in and at. They are formed by adding suffixes to the main prepositions. Some of the types and examples are as follows:


This preposition is used to describe a position that is at a higher level from a particular surface. A case in a sentence:

The plane flew above the clouds. (the location of the aircraft is above the clouds).


This preposition describes something that is at a lower level than a referenced surface. An example in a sentence is:

The divers went 500 meters below the sea level.

Next to

Next to is used to describe a position just beside the referenced object of person. This preposition can be used interchangeably with beside. An example in a sentence;

I was seated next to the company manager.

In between

This preposition describes space separated by two objects. An example of its application is:

The baby crawled in between her legs.


Behind is a preposition that describes a position at the back of something.

The rude boy was hiding behind the main house after beating his friend. (here there is a barrier that is the house then the position is at the back.


‘Under’ is used to describe a surface just below another surface.

e.g., the charger was found under the bed. (the location here is just below the surface which in this case is the bed.)

Tips on learning prepositions of location

Most people find it difficult in understanding location prepositions, and they end up misapplying it in their sentences changing the entire meaning of the phrase. Below are some of the tips that can guide you in mastering these prepositions and its appropriate application:

  • You should avoid direct translation from your native language- Most people mess up just because they translate the sentence into their native language get the preposition and replace it in the sentence in English. Translation usually brings a different meaning, so avoid direct translation you need to insert the preposition in a sentence and read it, if it does not apply there, you will note from re-reading.
  • Practice it by applying it in a sentence- to comprehend prepositions of location; you need to use it directly in a sentence then determine whether it fits the position or not. When you apply it in a sentence and reread it, you will be able to know if it is wrongly used.
  • Answering the question where? For you to be able to identify a preposition of locationyou need to ask yourself the position of the object that you are talking about in your sentence. Prepositions of place are associated with the final stationary position of an object at a particular time.


Having gone through all the prepositions of location, it is good to recap all that you have learned in summary. We have seen that prepositions of location are the words that are used to describe the stationary position of an object or person at a particular time. We have seen that the primary examples of these prepositions are: on, in, and at.

On is used to mean on the surface while in contact with something, ‘in’ is used to describe a location enclosed by something and ‘at’ is used to describe the exact position of an object at a particular time. We have also seen other alternative preposition of location such as besides, below, above and behind. We have also seen the application of each of the preposition by giving examples.

With this guide, I believe that you are now equipped with all it takes to understand prepositions of location, and you can quickly identify them in a sentence without difficulty. The only task remaining for you is to practice on them, and you will emerge the best, it’s that simple.