English Grammar: The Prepositions ON, AT, IN, BY


I'm having a hard time reading on the train right now.

Unh. Hold on. I'll start the lesson.

Hi. James from engVid. Sorry, I was on the train.

I want to teach you a lesson about

four basic prepositions that we use in English that sometimes get confused, and I understand

why, so I'll keep it basic. But because it's basic, it's going to be 80% correct. That's

a good thing, that means you can go to the website and learn more from other lessons

we have. But just know that sometimes there'll be exceptions, and I may not cover it here

today. I'll even give you two exceptions to help you, but why waste time?

Let's go to the board.

Here's Mr. E. You'll notice he has a calendar, he has a clock, and:

"You are here"?

Oh, here.

"Here" is a location. We're here right now, doing a lesson. That's the location: engVid.

Let's go to the board and do the rest of the lesson, shall we?

Here's: "at", "on", "in", and "by".

"At". I love it because it's very specific, so you

always know where you are, exactly. Problem: For transportation, "at" doesn't have anything.

Hmm. So let's go to the next one. Let's go to "on". On.

"On" is used for, let's say,

large vehicles or large ways of travelling, such as buses... Sorry. Trains, buses, planes,

and boats. I'll come back to boat in a second; it's an exception. On the train, on the bus,

and on the plane, unless you're Bill Gates, Donald Trump, or me-I'm not in that list-you

don't have your own train, plane, or bus, so you usually share it with a bunch of people

or a few people. It's large. So we say:

"You're on the bus", because it covers a big area,

so there are many people sitting in that area. When I get to location, you'll see what I mean.

Boat is a small exception. For many people in the world, they have their own boats because

maybe they do fishing, or rowing, which is a type of boat that you go by yourself. In

that situation, you can use "in". So, if the boat is small enough, say: "in":

"I'm in a boat right now." But if it's a big boat, you have to say: "I'm on a boat." Another exception

for the "on" rule is bicycle. You're always "on" a bicycle. I know, I said big vehicles,

but remember: a bicycle is small, and it doesn't really have a motor or an engine, so we kind

of give it its own thing, because you have to sit on the bicycle, and you can never really

be in a bicycle. Is that good?

Now, let's go to "in". "In" is funny because there are only two things for "in".

"In" we use for car and taxi.

The easy way to think about it is usually you own your own car;

it doesn't belong to a group of people. People just don't get on your car every time you

stop it, they go in and say: "Take me somewhere."

And a taxi, well, when you're in a taxi, it

is kind of your car. You pay the driver and you keep the car. So, this is one of those

few cases where, because it belongs to me, I am in my car or I am in the taxi, because

the taxi belongs to me as long as I pay the money. It's one of these funny exceptions.

I don't know why, because you can put more people in a car, but I guess because you can

actually own this transportation, it's yours. Think of it like the small boat. The small

boat, one person is in it, you can be inside of it. All right? Cool.

The last one we're going to do is "by". This is how you get there. So, "by" is different.

When we talk about "in" and "on", you are... We are talking about how you are in the vehicle.

Are you sitting on the bicycle? I can see you on it? You know, a boat is on water. But

"by" just means: How did you get here? So, when someone responds to you with: "By car",

"by plane", they're telling you how they got here. Not if they're in the plane, or on the

plane. They are just... That's how they got there. So, how did I get here to do this video?

Wouldn't you like to know. I'm kidding. I came here by car. So, yes, I was in my car

and drove here, but I would tell somebody: "I got here by car, not by bus", and that

would tell them the difference in the transportation I took. "How did you get here?" You like that?

Good, so that's "by", this is how you did it; and the way you travelled is here, "in"

and "on". Remember there is a small exception for small vehicles, so a small boat you can

be in. Remember small. And a bicycle, you're always on the bicycle, because people see

you sitting on it. We good? Excellent. Now, that is the lesson for transportation.

Let's look at location. You'll notice that the same rules or ideas apply.

Remember I said I liked "at" because it's specific? Notice the dot, it's very specific.

"Meet me at my house." That does not mean down the street,

that does not mean in another city. It means:

My house, you. Meet me at my house, specific location. Or I'll give you an address:

"Meet me at 51 Eglington."

Not: "In 51 Eglington", no. "At", that means right there.

You can see the number and the place. Like it? I do, too.

"On". If you notice, this is a dot, and this is like a carpet or an area. This is why I

said on the bus, the train, and the plane - they are big, they have an area. And because

of that, we say "on" because you stand in an area.

So, "on". We put things on a table.

Imagine... Nope. How about this? This is a better table. I'm going to put something on the table. You

can see it on, and here is an area. Cool? That's for "on".

"In" I can use the same thing. That's the next one. "In", there is a surface, but you

have to go over and in something. Remember I said "on" here? This is now "in". You can't

see it anymore, can you? Because it's inside with a bunch of markers. It's inside. But

when it's on the surface, you'll notice "on", you can see it. "In", like magic, it disappears.

Okay? So, "in", usually you have walls or something surrounding you that you can look

up and see the walls. You'll see there's the board here, and there are three other walls,

so I'm in a room. But I'm on the floor because I'm standing on the floor. Okay? So if the

floor was here, this would be me. Ta-da. But I would go in the room, and now you need a

door to see me. Okay? So, "in" and "on".

"By". Many of you know "close" and "near". So, if you think of two things... Okay? Here's

one thing, here's two things. We can say:

"This is by the red marker."

Similar to saying "close" or "near". We just say "by".

There's 8% of this marker. I said 80% lesson, but

it seems it's gone down. [Laughs] Well, "by" is similar to "close" or "near". And you notice

the arrows, here, show you, if I say I'm close to your house or by your house, it's similar

to saying "by" or "near". Okay? Cool.

Now I'm going to deal with time. When we deal with time, we'll start at "at". "At". Remember

I said very specific, that's why I like it? This is when you say things like: "At 9:15",

"At 12:00". It says very specific time when we deal with hour and minute.

-"What time will I meet you?" -"At 10:30." Specific. That doesn't mean 12:00. That's not "at". Okay?

Day... Sorry. "On". When we talk about "on", we talk about days. "On Monday", "On Tuesday".

And if you're confused, think of it this way: A day has 24 hours. It's kind of got a surface

to it. It's not just one specific time; it's got a little bit of time on it. So, on that

day-okay?-anything can happen on that day on the surface. We stand on it, and we walk

across it. You wake up, then you go to sleep. So, on that day. Funny enough, you can say

things like: "On Christmas day", "On Monday", "On my birthday". So if you have a word that

has a day in it, you can use "on". Told you I'd make it easy. It's 80% true, there'll

be exceptions. I know, someone will say one. But just think: "Did I say 'day' in there?

'On' the holiday." Right? You can say it, because it's got "day". Make it easy.

Okay, now we've talked about specific time with "at",

and on the day with "on", but let's look at "in".

When I say something like: "In September", what I'm talking about are long

periods of time. We can say that for years, months, and weeks. So, for instance, I can

even go back in the past and say: "In 1992, I came to Canada."

Or: "In September, I will buy a hat."

Now, we're talking about specific time, as we did in "on" and "at", but this

time we're talking about longer periods of time, and we're being very specific.

Now, I'm going to go to one more for you and we're going to go by "by". "By" is fantastic

because it's the end of a specific time. If I say: "I need it done by tonight",

that is the time, it's specific, and that's the end time or your limit.

And funny enough, that's the end of my lesson. I'm at the limit.

I hope you've enjoyed it. E has been helpful,

bringing out the calendar and the clock, and giving us a location.

Quick recap: You can use "at", "on", "in", and "by"

for transportation, location, and time.

When we deal with transportation, there are a couple of exceptions you want to remember.

"On" is used for large groups of people travelling by train, bus, plane, or boat. But sometimes

a boat can be for one person, and you can say "in". We also use bicycle for "on", and

that's because you sit on the bicycle. When we talk about "in", we use it for car and taxi,

because that's usually your private vehicle. Even though you say taxi's public,

when you're in it, it's yours as long as you pay for it, and it's also small. Okay?

"By" is how you get there; by car, plane, or train.

When we went for location, we talked about specific with "at". On the surface or in an

area for "on", like a carpet, think like carpet. "In", think like a box, you go in a box. And

"by" is similar to "close" or "near" or "close to" when you used it.

And finally, for time, we talked about specific time-okay?-using these prepositions.

"At" is one time only; "on" is for days: "On Monday", "On Christmas day";

"in" is used for longer periods of time, like: "In September", or we can go back into the past:

"In 1992";

and finally, end time when we use "by". Okay? And we say that's the end.

And that's the end of this particular lesson.

So, I'd like to thank you, once again, for coming to engVid.

And what did I say? I need you to go to www.eng as in engVid... English.

V, as in video.com

(www.engvid.com) where you can go do the quiz and see how well you learned your lesson.

Okay? And by now, I think you've got 80% of it correct.

Okay? See ya later.