When to use 'in' and 'on'?


I’m not a native speaker, so sometimes it’s hard for me to know when to use ‘in’ and ‘on’.


Hi Jin,

This is a very difficult question to answer specifically because there are so many uses for both prepositions. Generally (and I do mean very generally) ‘in’ has the idea of ‘inside’ and ‘on’ suggests ‘on top of’. In the simplest form we would say: I have put the book on the table in the kitchen.

You might like to look at a piece I’ve written for the site on prepositions:




Just a simple question: “In here” or “on here”?

Never “on here”, I think.

I also think so.

It’s always hard for me. For example: “On monday” isn’t related to what Alan said.

I think :IN HERE is right


‘In here’ suggests, as I said, ‘inside’ here and ‘on here’ suggests ‘on top of here (this place)’. The plate is in here (the cupboard) and I’ve put the the vase on here (the shelf).

What’s the problem?


I’m having some trouble imagining myself actually saying “I’ve put the vase on here.” It seems to me it would be more typical to either omit ‘on’ in that sentence, or to change the word ‘here’ to something such as ‘this’, ‘that’ or ‘it’ (if the word ‘shelf’ is not used).

My limitation also allows me to understand ‘on here’ would only be possible when ‘on’ is attached to another word. ‘What’s going on here’ is absolutely alrihgt and if I say I’ve put the vase on here’, then it seems to me that it should be taken as: I’ve put the vase on in here’ = I’ve tried the vase on in here’.