Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between IN and ON

preposition_bookIN vs ON

Prepositions are one of the most hated parts of speech. Even experienced writers are sometimes uncomfortable using them. Often people are confused with similar prepositions particularly the prepositions IN and ON.

More often than not, either IN or ON can be grammatically correct. It entirely depends what you really mean in your statements.

Here are some few guidelines on how to use these two most commonly misused prepositions:

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 beehive.
– The mail in the mailbox.
– The file is in the disk.

Alternatively, ON is used to denote 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 his arm.

IN is used to denote a moment enclosed in time. It is therefore used with other parts of the day, with months, with years, with seasons. Some examples of these are,

– I like to drink coffee in the morning.
– Andrea’­s wedding is in October.
– A lot of terrorist activities happened in 2001.
– The flowers will bloom in spring.

ON is used with days and dates. Also, it may be used in special parts of the day and special holidays. Distinctively, ON is used when you do not enclose something — time included ñ it is with relative specificity.

– I’ll see you on Friday!
– My retirement is effective on June 23.
– The event happened on the morning of January 14.
– We look for colourful eggs on Easter Sunday.

ON is used with street names. Conversely, 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 of using these two prepositions and it would be best to learn them from experience.


1. IN is used when you are referring something enclosed by limitations while using IN is relatively specific and does not denote anything enclosed.
2. IN is used to denote a location of something inside a space while on generally, denotes something above a surface or within proximity.
3. Whether it is used with place or time, normally, IN is general as compared to the specific implications of ON.

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  1. Thank you very much! I’m really confused about In and On. Again and again, thank you! :)

  2. Thanks for sharing, The next thing i have to do is to apply it to my life . ahhihi

  3. Thank you so much. ihihi

  4. I have a little doubt. When we check a document, or a log for example, .. Do we find something ON the document or IN the document?


    • Hi
      at first thank you for this website that offers a lot to teachers same as me and my issue here is with IN and ON, Is that correct to say : read the question ( in / on )this page ….

      thanks a lot

  5. Hi, which is correct between these two sentences: “Please post your comments IN this chatroom.” or “Please post your comments ON this chatroom.” And Why?

    • I am a native English speaker and personally think that “in a chat room sounds better” but if you were talking about a certain webpage you could say “on this page/site.” But in your specific example the difference is so subtle that I doubt anyone would notice if you said on vs in

  6. thanks so muchit helped me a lot, blessings for all:)

  7. OOPS!

    Thank you, this is very enlightening. I’ve been in the USA for more than forty years, and this still haunts me.

    Just wanted to point out that in your example [above] regarding the usage of IN, you used ON instead. It reads: “Andrea’­s wedding is on October.” (I gather there is a missing apostrophe -replaced by some other system-generated character.)

  8. Your example:

    “Andreaís wedding is on October.”

    is this correct?

  9. Are you in whatsapp??? Or
    are you on whatsapp???
    which is correct???

  10. The answer for document question
    We should use in the document,
    Not on the document because it is paper related word,

  11. Are you on whats up is correct. It is Like someone talking on mobile we ask them as who is on the line because it is a media.

  12. Apostrophe is used only with living things. We should not use with non living things.

  13. Thanks! :) now I know.

  14. This has always been a headache for me. Thank you

  15. Hi I just wanted to make sure that people realized that the example “Andreaís wedding is on October” is incorrect. I’m a native English speaker and my boyfriend is a native Spanish speaker. So I understand how difficult the distinction can be. But the example should say “Andrea’s wedding is on October 10th (or any other specific day)” or “Andrea’s wedding is IN October (if you don’t want to include a specific day). You explain the distinction perfectly later on in your article! Everything else seems perfect!

  16. em is reading a book in British accent
    em is reading a book on British accent

    which is which?

  17. IN British accent sounds cooler than ON British accent.

  18. hello,
    I saw the advert placement on the internet
    I saw the advert placement in the internet

    Pls which is appropriately used?

  19. The question is, the state insect has the yellow in it? Could it a firefly because it has a yellow color in it..i just always get confused i dont know the different between in it and on it. Like if the question was about in it, could it be on it too?? Helpp!!

  20. thanks for this info. now I would like to know whether “shines in darkness” and “shines on darkness” are different, and how ?

  21. In the Facebook or on the Facebook
    On the website or in the website tnx

  22. Thanks for the info……..

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