Prepositions of Place: on, off, at – Learn their Correct Usage & Examples

By 9 September 2018 Video lessons 2 Comments
Prepositions of Place: on, off, at

Hi there! I’m your English coach Christina, welcome to Speak English with Christina, where you’ll learn American culture and business know-how to become confident in English.

You know what can be confusing in English? Prepositions!

Especially when you’re trying to give directions over the phone or by email. When someone is coming to visit your office, or when you’re trying to set up a meeting over a coffee for networking, for instance. In any case, here are a few expressions that can help you.

Let’s go!

Prepositions of place: on, off, at

When we describe where we’re at or where we’re going to, we use different prepositions of place, like at and on. Plus, we often use phrasal verbs like get on or get off. All these prepositions make English a pretty tricky language.

Don’t worry, you’re allowed to make mistakes, people will still mostly understand. In the worst case scenario, it will sound funny.

But if you use prepositions correctly, it will show that you totally master even the most difficult parts of the English language. You’re a step above most non-English speakers!

On the train / On the bus

During any trip by train, you can say that you’re on the train.
This is a preposition that many students have trouble with. Because it’s illogical! Nobody actually travels on a train, except maybe if you’re James Bond or something, so it would make sense to say “in the train”, right?
Well, yes you’re right, it’s a little absurd. But that’s how the English language works, I’m sorry.
Don’t worry: if you use “in,” we’ll understand. But it’ll sound a little weird. In American English, we just naturally say “on the train.”
For example: “You should get on the bus before it leaves.
Text me when you’re on the train.”

Get off the train / Get off the bus

“Getting off a means of transportation”, such as a train or a bus, means to disembark.
Some students would use “Exit”, but that’s very formal, for official announcements for instance. And “Get out” is only used for personal cars.

We often want to get to a specific place before to getting off public transportation. For this, we use the preposition “at”.

For example:
“Get off the subway at the Lexington Avenue station, I’ll meet you there.”
Or “I’ll get off at Union Square so we can grab something to eat.”

On Pennsylvania Avenue

A building is located on a specific street.
For instance, there are 40 theaters on Broadway.

If you want to give your address, you can say: “Our office is located on Lexington Avenue, right next to the Chrysler Building”

Or “We’re on Montgomery Street, right across from the Transamerica Pyramid”
It’s a good idea to use landmarks! If you’re in San Francisco, you know where that famous building is.

At 175, 5th Avenue

For a full address, with a street number, we use “at”.
Now this is the preposition where students struggle the most. We don’t often give our full address!

So they try “in”, “on” or other things that sound logical, but that we don’t actually use.
For example:

“The main entrance of the building is at 1 Liberty Plaza.
If you need a parking garage, there’s one at 10 Liberty Street.”
Or:  “We have offices at 1350 Broadway, at 157 West 35th street, and at 1 Pennsylvania Plaza.”
Or, to end with a little quiz for you:

Write down your guess in the comments! Or google it and then put the correct answer :-)

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American accent

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