Prepositional errors

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Prepositional errors

It is common in our everyday usage of the language to commit prepositional errors because a single preposition can serve multiple purposes.

In vs On – medium in which something is seen.

In – It is used when something appears in printed media. E.g articles, journals, magazines etc.

Usage Examples;

i. I read the story in the Daily Graphic.

iI. I saw the picture in the book.

On – It is used when something appears on digital or electronic device.

Usage Examples;

i. I read the story on my computer

ii.I saw on the Television

iii. I stored his contact on my phone.

In v At – performance

When we want to describe how well someone does something, we usually use the phrase; is good followed by at. However if we use the phrase does well, then we will use in.

Usage Examples

i. The man is good at fractions

ii. They are good at English

iii. The woman does well in mathematics.

iv. He does well in English.

At v In – location

These two prepositions ( at & in ) are both used to talk about position or location. Generally, the meaning is the same. Both of these sentences tell us Ibrahim’s location:

E.g 1; Ibrahim is at the office.
E.g 2; Ibrahim is in the office.

However, there are certain instances where the meaning of these words may not be the same, or perhaps, there are instances where both words cannot be used within the same context, that is to say, it will only be grammatical to use either of both words but not both.

E.g a. The man waited for me at the bus stop. This sentence is grammatical.

E.g b. *The man waited in the bus stop. This sentence is ungrammatical.

Now, let’s begin drawing some conclusions, IN is used for general locations, whereas AT is used for specific locations.


i. We use at for specific or small locations.

E.g a. The Otumfour stays at Manhyia Palace.

E.g b. The head porters work at Agbogboloshie.

ii. We use at before a school or company:

E.g a. The presentation was done at University of Ghana.

E.g b. There are lots of workers at Microsoft.

iii. We also use at to talk about events.

E.g a. Many people were at the end of year Party.

E.g b. Some children fought at the wedding.

iv. We also use at to talk about one specific point during a trip.

E.g a. Cars commuting from Tamale to Accra stop at Kintampo Water Falls for passengers to eat.


People usually use in to note general and large locations like cities and countries.

E.g a. Otumfour stays in Kumasi.

E.g b. The head porters work in Accra.

ii. It is also used to express locations in enclosed places or areas.

E.g a. The teacher was in the classroom.

At School vs. In School

These two prepositions convey a different meaning when they are used in a context such as;

in school and at school.

It’s important to remember that each preposition expresses an idea. For example, at expresses the idea of being at a specific location, whereas in expresses the idea of being in an institution. For this reason, at school and in school have two very different meanings.

Take a look at the examples below to understand the difference.

E.g a. When I got to house, I couldn’t find him, he was at school.
At school means; at that location.

E.g b. Suleman is not a teacher yet, he is in school.
In school means; enrolled or studying in an institution.

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