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.

Some of your questions answered below:

In or on, which one to use?

The choice between using in or on depends on the context. On means atop something while in means inside something. When it comes to dates, you can use in or on depending on the context. If referring to years, months, centuries or long periods, use in. However, when referring to dates or days, use on.

In our or on our, which one is correct?

Both can be correct. For instance, when referring to teams, the use of in our team or on our team is correct.

In and on use, when to use which one?

Again, this depends on the context. For instance, the sentence: The jug is in use, is correct. However, on use is not correct.

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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

    • what is the difference of Log in and Log on?

    • i think it’s ‘IN’ ,remember?.. when you are going to use ‘ON’ it should be outside the surface.. if you’re looking something ‘IN’ your document.. i guess the right answer is ‘IN’ bcoz you are looking for something thats inside your document.. i’m sorry about my grammar..

  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?

    • I can’t explain specifically why, but I know the correct version is “ON the internet”. That’s just how I’ve heard people say it. “IN the internet” just sounds awkward to me, IMO.

  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……..

  23. Hi all.. i will talk to you in whatsapp group or i will talk to you in whatsapp group or i will talk to you via whatsapp group? Which one is correct and why..please someone explain it. thanks in advance

  24. I’m still confused. I’m using whatsApp on the phone or I’m using whatsApp in the phone

  25. It helps me a lot. Thanks 🙂

  26. Still on high honors or
    Still in high honors

    Pls help

  27. Still on Top 3 or
    Still in Top 3

    plsss help

  28. She was on top 10
    Her birthday is coming in july
    We have a reunion on aug. 23
    We will celebrate our wedding anniv. On feb 14
    Is’t right guys???

  29. I really want to know how to speak english well anyone can help me via exchange chat or live cam

  30. In a senior position or on a senior position

  31. You look great in your weeding gown/ you look great on your weeding gown?
    Please help…

  32. I have a question. Why is it “in a rock band” but “on a soccer team”?

  33. We spell “in this day” or “on this day”?

  34. Thank you so much for thisvit helps me to understand it futher .

  35. The difference between on the day and in the day .

  36. Please I want to ask, if i say “I am in the bus” while the bus is still moving, And “I am on the bus” while the bus is moving also, which of this is correct. And I want to know the reasons please.

  37. 1. Alexander was born on rich family..
    2. Alexander was born in rich family..

    Which is the right answer?

  38. Should it be in Christmas or on Christmas

  39. Thanks a lot.

  40. Thanks for the explanation,I was not able to ans it in the interview today it was confusing.

  41. Always trust in God or on God ?

  42. Which is correct? Join us in winter wonderland or join us on winter wonderland?

  43. Can you give us more examples especially for the things like what people kept on asking here!

  44. i am sleep on bed and i am read in bed so what is different in this sentence. Both are activity on bed so tell me…..

  45. 40% of in every item? 40% of on every items?

  46. 40% off in every item? 40% off on every items?

  47. I pay a visit each day a few web pages and sites to read articles or reviews, however this website offers quality based articles.

  48. Superdry men’s Germany Trophy Series t-shirt.

  49. Quick and efficient on tills or quick and efficient in tills which is the right one

  50. …..facilities _____ the car for….


    Please tell me the best answe.

  51. In or on
    “He led a band of brothers in a daring escape.”
    Or “…. on a daring escape”.

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