Prepositions are one of the most hated parts of speech. Even experienced writers sometimes feel uncomfortable using them. People are often confused with similar prepositions, particularly the IN and ON prepositions.
In most cases, IN or ON can be grammatically correct. It depends completely on what it really means in your statements.
Here are some guidelines on how to use these two prepositions most commonly misused:
It is advisable to use IN when you are indicating a position for spaces with limitations. IN is used to convey that something is contained or inside. For example,
– The bee is in the hive.
– The mail in the mailbox.
– The file is on the disk.
Alternatively, ON is used to indicate a position for surfaces or a position just above or outside an area. Example,
– The book is placed on the table.
– Charlie sat on the stool.
– Jane had a tattoo on her arm.
IN is used to denote a moment locked in time. Therefore, it is used with other parts of the day, with months, years and seasons. Some examples of these are,
– I like to drink coffee in the morning.
– Andrea’s wedding is in October.
– Many terrorist activities occurred in 2001.
– Flowers will bloom in spring.
ON is used with days and dates. In addition, it can be used in special parts of the day and special holidays. Distinctively, ON is used when it does not enclose something: the time included in it is with relative specificity.
– See you on Friday!
– My retirement goes into effect on June 23.
– The event occurred on the morning of January 14.
– We are looking for colorful eggs on Easter Sunday.
ON is used with street names. On the contrary, IN is used with names of cities, towns, provinces, states and countries.
– I’m on Elm Street, meet me here, Freddie.
– Jiu-jitsu is big in Brazil.
– There are so many celebrities in California!
There are some special considerations about the use of these two prepositions and it would be better to learn them from experience.
1. IN is used when it refers to something enclosed by limitations while the use of IN is relatively specific and does not denote anything included.
2. IN is used to denote a location of something within a space while in general, denotes something on a surface or within proximity.
3. Whether it is used with place or time, normally, IN is general compared to the specific implications of ON.