I would like to know when to use each one of them. I mean, how is the right way to use in and on.


The gift is in or on the box

And in and on are similar, but at is different. Anyway i read some uses of at, where it sounds like in or on. What makes it different from others? What are the rules to use each one?


If you are asking the rules, I'm afraid, it'll be too broad here to describe. However, in the context of the sentence in concern, I can give you some idea. You would be, possibly, able to determine the use of prepositions then.

The gift is in the box - You have to open the box or at least take out that gift from the box. In short, if the box is not transparent, you cannot see the gift. It is inside the box.

The gift is on the box - Probably, the gift is lying on the box. Imagine a gift on the table which means the gift is lying on the table. In the same way, the gift is on the box i.e. on the surface of box.

At talks about the place the thing/person is at. For instance, I'm at office means your location is office. In this sense, The gift is at the box will be bad English.

Another important rule in the context of time is...

Use on to indicate date or day - The party is on Tuesday
Use in for the month - My birthday is in October
Use at for the hours - I'll meet you at 6 o'clock.

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  • When we use in time and at time and on time ? What's the core difference or any rule ? – ARG Sep 30 '14 at 12:09
  • 1
    Someone in time means within the time specified. Someone at time is ungrammatical. Someone on time is exactly on the time specified. The train is on time; For international flights, you should reach airport in time. 'At time' is all different in this context. – Maulik V Sep 30 '14 at 12:13

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