Prepositions of Place: “In” “On” & “At”

Last week we discussed how the small connecting words of the English language are just as important as mastering a larger vocabulary… but the correct usage of these tiny words can sometimes fall through the cracks for non-native English speakers. You may start to use words like “in,” “on,” and “at” interchangeably, when they actually each have a specific purpose. Incorrect usage of these prepositions can cause native English speakers to question your fluency, or become confused by your meaning.


when do you say (place)


Last week, we looked at how to use “in,” “on,” and “at” when describing time… This week, we’ll follow the same principle when using them to describe locations.


If you can remember this order, “IN, ON, AT”… then you can remember this general rule for how to describe places:


gen rule place


See again how “IN, ON, AT” progress from general to specific locations as you read their descriptions:


Prepositions of Place


I have some more sample sentences for you again this week. Take a look and choose the correct prepositions for each location.


Fill In Place


This video I created a few years ago further explains the usage of “IN, ON, AT” with regard to location beyond what I’ve detailed here. Check it out and then look below to see if you got the sample sentences correct!



Answers Place

If this video and information helped you, or if you’d like more information on accent reduction, take my free accent screening and receive a free pronunciation guide at

Transitions: Graduation, Guatemala, and Great- Grandmother

A new school. A new country. A new life.

Leaving behind the old and embracing the unknown new. That has been our family’s recent reality.

In recent weeks, we have graduated our first child from high school, sent him on his first plane ride for his first experience in a developing country, and said our last good-byes to his 101 year old great-grandmother as she begins her new life in a better place. Soon we will take him to his new home – and new life- at college as we adjust to a new normal with one fewer face at the dinner table each night.

What transitions have you faced in your life? New job? New country? New language and culture?

A time of leaving behind the old and embracing the unknown new.

But what if you don’t WANT to leave behind the old and embrace the new? Maybe the transition wasn’t your choice. Or maybe it didn’t turn out the way you expected. Maybe it’s more work and less fun than you had hoped. Perhaps you’re tired of the language barrier. Maybe you feel like you don’t fit in yet…and you wonder if you ever will.

May I share something that I have found helpful during those unsure times? In the book of Philippians, Paul says, “Forgetting what is behind and straining for what is ahead, I press on toward the goal”

Wise words for any transition in our lives.

“Forgetting what is behind” doesn’t literally mean to forget, but to put it in the back of our thoughts and not to think about it all the time. We can focus on what we have lost, the things in our past that are gone, or we can look ahead to the wonderful opportunities in front of us.

While I am sad not to have my son around every day now, I am excited for him and all the new experiences he will have in the coming months, and I am thrilled for his great-grandmother who is now in a place where her crippling arthritis and breathing problems are no more.

I am also excited to share with you something that I think will give you a reason to press on toward your goal of speaking English more easily. If you are tired of the language and culture transitions in your life and ready to look ahead towards clearer communication, then you will love what is coming this month!

July is Freedom of Speech month and in honor of that, I am giving away free speech coaching all month long! Yes, that’s right. During the month of July , I am setting aside several hours each week just for you to answer your most pressing speech problems.

Want the details on how to get your free coaching session?

Watch the video here!






Have Fun! Improve Your Spoken English by Playing Games

Once you’ve completed an accent reduction course and learned some new sounds, you need to practice those sounds to improve your spoken English and make it a habit in everyday conversation.

Of course, you can plan get-togethers with your English speaking friends, and a fun activity to get everyone talking is to play a board game. Many board games will encourage interaction, and they are all great for practicing conversation, but there are a few that are particularly good for building your English pronunciation and vocabulary skills.

The harder you have to think about what you are going to say, the harder it is to remember to use the correct English pronunciation. That is what makes these games such great practice. And, they’re lots of fun!

One of my personal favorites is Taboo. The object of the game is to get your teammates to guess a word written on your card, but you can’t use the most common words to describe it. You have to find another way to tell what it is so your teammates can guess. For example, you may have the word “ladder”, but you can’t use the words “rungs, steps, paint, or high” to describe it. So you might say “an object you lean against your house when you need to get on the roof.” Get the idea?

Another great game is Balderdash. You are given a card with a word on it and several definitions, but only one is the correct one. You also make up a definition for the word and ask the other players which one they think is correct. You get points for bluffing, or fooling, them when they choose your definition.

A third great game to build your vocabulary, descriptive skills, and knowledge of American culture, is Apples to Apples. In this game, each person gets noun cards with a person, place, or thing listed on them. An adjective card is placed in the middle and each person selects the noun card that they think goes best with the adjective. Here’s the fun part: each person has to explain why they think their card is the best, and the person selected as the judge gets to decide whose is the best.

While these games are readily available and not too expensive, you could make up your own version of each of them with a good dictionary and some paper. To make a game similar to Taboo, you can choose some common words and list the words used in the definitions as the ” not allowed ” words.

A home version of Balderdash can be played with just a dictionary. You choose a word from the dictionary, read its definition, a definition of another word on the same page, and one you make up on your own.

For a comparison game like Apples to Apples, you need a stack of index cards and a list of nouns and adjectives. Write one word on each card, keeping the nouns and adjectives separate. Pass out five noun cards to each player, put an adjective card in the middle, and you’re ready to go.

So, whether you choose the convenience of purchasing ready-made games or you decide to spend the time to make them up yourself, language games are a fun way to enjoy time with friends and to improve spoken English.

Not sure how to improve your English pronunciation? Why don’t you take my free online speech and accent screening at It only takes a few minutes, and you will get free tips on exactly which sounds to work on.

  • 7/9/2010 8:11 PM Jeff Brunson wrote:
    Apples to Apples is one of the most fun boxed games I’ve ever played. Played it only once with some life-long friends at our annual reunion. I’m amazed at the possibilities of such games to help one with communication and connection thru improving language skills.
  • 7/10/2010 2:05 PM Melanie McGhee wrote:
    I have to agree with Jeff here. I love your out of the box approach.

Improve your Spoken English with Perfumes and Essential Oils

You’ve been working hard to improve your spoken English, but all the pronunciation patterns and words stress rules are beginning to feel a bit overwhelming. You’ve tried making lists and listening to recordings, but the hard part is just remembering to use what you know in everyday conversations. You’ve tried using reminder notes and alarms, and even carrying a smooth stone in your pocket to touch and remind you to use your new speech patterns.

But none of it is helping. You may be one of the people whose memory is triggered best by the sense of smell.

Have you ever walked into a room and smelled something cooking,and you immediately thought back to your mother fixing a favorite food when you were a child? Or perhaps you were walking through a store and caught a whiff of someone’s cologne – the same one your ex-boyfriend or girlfriend used to wear. That stirred up some memories, didn’t it?

Our sense of smell triggers our memory more powerfully than any of our other senses. So, we’re going to take this incredible capacity to remember and use it to help us master that tricky English pronunciation.

First, I want you to pick out a scent that you like, but that is unfamiliar to you. In other words, the fragrance that you wear every day won’t work, because your brain is accustomed to it and you already have memories associated with it.You can choose an essential oil, such as vanilla or peppermint, or a scented lotion that you like. Or, you can use this as a great excuse to purchase that designer fragrance you’ve really been wanting. The important thing is that you find the smell pleasing and that it is new to you so that it doesn’t evoke other memories.

Choose one sound that you want to remember to practice and use in your daily conversations. Make a list of 10-20 words that have that sound in them, and either memorize the words or keep the list near you.

Now, get out your wonderful new designer fragrance,essential oil, or other pleasing scent and apply a dab of it to your wrists. Do not put any of it on your face or neck. This is important because if you do that, you will smell it constantly, your brain will acclimate to it, and within a short while, you won’t notice it any longer. When that happens, the smell on your wrist won’t seem unusual and it won’t trigger your memory the way we want it to.

So, you have your list of words and your new fragrance on your wrists. As you go throughout your day, every time your hand moves near your face and you smell that wonderful aroma, recite a few of your practice words. If you are in the midst of a conversation, just use that reminder scent to encourage yourself to purposefully use one of your new words in the conversation and make a point of pronouncing it correctly.

Before long, smelling your fragrance will automatically trigger a response in your brain to pay attention to your English pronunciation. And soon, you will be getting compliments on both how you smell and how you speak as your new technique helps you improve your spoken English.

Not sure exactly which sounds you should be practicing? Why don’t you take my free online speech and accent screening at It only takes a few minutes, and you will get free tips on how to improve your pronunciation.