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Difference Between In and On (with Comparison Chart)-Key Differences

Difference Between In and On

In vs On

Prepositions are the words that are used in sentences to show location or the relationship between the noun or pronoun with the other element in the clause. English speakers usually face confusion in using prepositions like ‘in’ and ‘on’. We use the word ‘in‘ when we talk about a situation in which something is enclosed by something else.

On the other hand, ‘on‘ is used to talk about a situation when the object is placed above or outside something else. Now, let’s take a look at these examples to understand them in a better way:

  • When I was in London, I was working on a client Project.
  • I don’t know what’s going on, in her mind.

In the first sentence, ‘in’ is used with the name of the country, while ‘on’ is used to show a relation with something. In the next sentence, ‘in’ is used to express something closed off by something else, while on is used to show a process.

Content: In Vs On

  1. Comparison Chart

  2. Definition

  3. Key Differences

  4. Examples

  5. How to remember the difference

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Comparison Chart

Basis for Comparison In On
Meaning ‘In’ is a preposition, commonly used to show a situation when something is enclosed or surrounded by something else. ‘On’ refers to a preposition that expresses a situation when something is positioned above something else.
Pronunciation ɪn ɒn
Usage by time Months, Years, Season, Decades and Century. Days, Dates and Special Occasions.
Usage by place Name of town, city, state, and country. Street names.
Example She is sitting in her room. I will meet her on Monday.
May I come in the class. Shweta’s birthday is on 25th of February.
Aliya lives in Dubai Karishma is on her way to London.

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Definition of In

The word ‘in’ is a preposition, used in sentences to mean something in an enclosed place (i.e. a space having physical or virtual boundaries) or surrounded by something else. We’ll understand the use of ‘in’ with the help of the points given below:

  1. When something is inside an object or place or enclosed by something:
    • Maaya is sitting in the park.
    • My daughter studies in St. Xavier’s College.
    • Ajita is among the top hairdresser in Delhi.
    • What was there in your pocket?
  2. It can be used to denote, into something:
    • Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
  3. It indicates a part of a larger group or something else.
    • Shahrukh Khan played a lead role in ‘Raees’.
    • He has been working in this company for ages.
  4. It is used to express the time period.
    • The movie was released in 1994.
    • This is the first time I am going to London, in 10 years.
  5. It can be used with parts of the day:
    • I will meet you in the morning.
    • Exception: There is one exception to this rule, and that we use at night, and not in the night.
  6. It is also used to imply not exceeding the time specified:
    • The counsellor will arrive, in a couple of hours.
    • Can you submit the project in two days?
  7. To express an experience:
    • I fell in love with Priyanka Chopra.
    • She was in hurry, as she had an interview today.
  8. To express something is performed as a result of some other event:
    • She offered me chocolates in return for my gift.

Definition of On

The word ‘on’ refers to a situation in which something is in physical contact with something else or having the support of the something. Let’s discuss when to use ‘on’ in the sentences:

  1. To represent something is placed above something and is in touch with it:
    • Your document folder is on the top of the almirah.
    • I saw a beggar yesterday, standing on the roadside.
  2. To show connectivity to something:
    • There is a big painting on the wall?
  3. To indicate time, i.e. days, dates and special days:
    • The birthday party will be held on Sunday.
    • My son’s birthday is on 14th Feb.
  4. To represent a process:
    • She is on her way to Paris.
    • Pihu is on leave this month, due to her brother’s marriage.
  5. When relating to something:
    • Kriti wrote a novel on dreams and passion.
    • Do you think, your speech has any effect on them?
  6. When we talk about the day with a part of the day:
    • We left for the picnic, on Sunday morning.

Key Differences Between In and On

The points given below are substantial so far as the difference between in and on is concerned:

  1. ‘In’ implies a preposition, that represents a situation in which something is surrounded by something else. Conversely, ‘on’ is used in the situation when something is in physical contact with the surface of another object.
  2. ‘In’ is used when we are talking about months, years, seasons, decades and centuries. As against, ‘on’ is used when we are referring to days, dates and special occasions.
  3. If we talk about a place, usually ‘in’ is used with the name of the town, city, state and country, whereas ‘on’ is used with street names.

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  • Economic liberalization was initiated in 1991, in India.
  • Several people are swimming in the pool.
  • The Principal will be arriving in a few minutes.


  • Your success depends on your hard work.
  • On our vacations, we went to Agra.
  • There is a red spot on the wall.

How to remember the difference

To know the difference between in and on, one must know about their uses first. Secondly, there are certain rules regarding the use of the words in and on, which must be understood clearly, to use them correctly and confidently in the sentences.

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