Difference Between IN and ON? Complete Details with Practice Questions

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The basic difference between in and on is that when referring to something that is situated within of a particular area, the word ‘in’ is used. When anything is touching the surface of another object, the term “on” is used.

Have you ever noticed how a single word change can have a significant impact on a sentence’s meaning? Prepositions are simple words that can make a big difference in the structure of a phrase. In and on are two elements that are easily interchangeable; they are like the puzzle pieces that fit together to form a sentence.

Gaining competence with the terms in and on will improve your ability to communicate greatly and help you avoid misunderstandings. It’s like having a hidden tongue that can improve the quality of your writing. So let’s delve deeper into the subject of prepositions and examine the difference between in and on.

Also Read: What is the Difference Between Permutation and Combination?

Let’s Explore – In

This is used to signify that an object, space, or area holds something. Saying that you are “in” a room, “in” an auto, or “in” a building are a few examples.

Uses of In

  • To define being inside a three-dimensional area, structure, box, or vehicle.

Example: The monkey is in the box.

  • To define being inside a specific period of time.

Example: The project is due in 5 weeks.

  • To explain being a part of or included in a group or category.

Example: He is a student in the art program.

  • To describe something that is enclosed in or encircled by another object.

Example: The fish are in the aquarium.

Examples of In

A few of the examples of in that are used in our daily lives are:

  • He is in the garden, planting trees.
  • The car is parked in the parking lot.
  • The books are in the library.
  • They played in the hotel.
  • My cousins aren’t in this season, so we are looking after their house.

Let’s Explore – On

This is used to show that an object’s surface is being touched or that something is physically lying on it. You could say, for example, that you are “on” a chair or that your book is “on” the table. 

Uses of On

  • To explain coming into contact with a surface or thing physically.

Example: This pen is on the table.

  • To give an explanation of a place or location on a two-dimensional or flat surface.

Example: The map is on the wall.

  • To explain a day or occasion.

Example: Her birthday is on February 29th.

  • To express a bond or relationship with something.

Example: The picture is kept on the table.

Examples of On

A few of the examples of on that are used in our daily lives are:

  • Drive on the road, turn right and the party store will be on your left.
  • The laptop is on the table.
  • He is sitting on the couch.
  • She was born on Monday morning.
  • You should dance on the floor.

Difference between In and On

In grammar, it is very important to understand the difference between in and on, as these two are the most commonly used grammatical terms. Let’s check the differences below:

Definition Shows that something is enclosed or kept within a space Shows that something is resting or supported by a surface
TimeShows a general time frame or duration Shows a specific day or date
LocationShows a general area or region Shows a specific point or surface
Movement Indicates movement towards the interior of a space Indicates movement onto a surface
Relationship Shows that something is part of something else.Shows that something is attached to or associated with another object.

Similarities between In and On

  • Both terms can be used to denote position: “on” normally refers to something that is supported or sitting on a surface, but “in” usually denotes that something is contained or enclosed within a space.
  • Both of these can be used to denote time: “in” denotes a broad period of time, but “on” denotes a particular day or date.
  • Both phrases can be used to denote a location: “on” designates a precise point or surface, while “in” designates a general area or region.
  • Both terms can be used to denote movement: “on” denotes movement onto a surface, while “in” is frequently used to denote movement towards the interior of a place.
  • The terms “in” and “on” can be used to denote different relationships between two objects: “in” can mean that something is enclosed within another object, while “on” might mean that something is linked to or attached to another object.

Also Read: What is the Difference Between Definite and Indefinite Integrals? Complete Details

In vs. On – Exception to the Rule

There are many exceptions to the rule in the English language, and in and on are no different. Don’t worry if you don’t get some of the following guidelines correct the first time—even native speakers have trouble with them!

In vs. On with Transportation

Although they are used interchangeably when discussing transportation, the prepositions in and on are not the same.

The preposition in is appropriate when discussing personal transportation, such as an automobile. As an example:

  • She drives daily to pick up her kids in the car.

But for public transport, on preposition is used. For example:

  • Whenever I travel on bus, I feel very pukish.

In vs. On with Date

While on should only be used to refer to a single day or date, in can also be used to refer to a month, year, or indefinite date. Let’s examine these two prepositions’ differences using a few examples.

  • I only allow my husband to take shots on special occasions.
  • I started learning Spanish in 2017.

Practice Questions Using “In” or “On”

Ques 1. The party is ……. Monday.

Ques 2. She is …… the bus.

Ques 3. My teacher gave a book …… the history of English grammar.

Ques 4. They live …. Paris.

Ques 5. I am going to take a leave …… Saturday.


  1. On
  2. In
  3. On
  4. In
  5. on


How to use in and on time?

“In time” refers to “before it’s too late,” whereas “on time” refers to “at the scheduled or correct time.”

What is correct – Born in or born on?

It should be Born in if you’re referring to the year, month, or season. It should be Born on if you’re referring to a day of the week or a holiday.

Give an example of usage of on?

A few on usage examples are:
He is sitting on the couch.
She was born on Monday morning.

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