In

'In' is a preposition. It has many functions, such as expressing time, place, and manner. In this lesson, we will examine them in detail.

How to Use the Preposition "In" in the English Grammar

The preposition in is used before nouns or noun phrases to show three functions and it is also used as an adverb.

1. 'In' as a Preposition of Time

Use

In as the preposition of time is used to talk about longer periods of time such as months, years, seasons, decades, centuries, etc. For example:

I was born in 1995.

I love to go there in April.

She was talking about what happened in the 17th century.

'The 17th century' is a time expression.

In the spring, I will lose weight.

Tip

It is possible that in is used with shorter periods of time such as morning, evening, or afternoon. For example:

I watched a drama in the morning.

I will call you in the afternoon.

But we use at before 'night.' Look:

I will make a cake at night.

Position in a Sentence

In as the preposition of time comes before a noun or a noun phrase that shows a particular time. As a result, the noun after the preposition is called the object of a preposition. The preposition and its object are called the prepositional phrase and act as an adverb. Remember that articles are often used after the preposition of time in. For example:

I work in the morning.

'The morning' is the object of preposition and 'in the morning' is the prepositional phrase.

I was born in April 1995.

'In' instead of 'Within'

In generally is used before periods of time that are long but it can also be used instead of 'within' before shorter periods of time. Look:

I will do in in two minutes.

This sentence could be 'I will do it within two minutes.'

Tip

If time expressions are followed by determiners, prepositions are never used before the determiners. In addition, 'tonight, tomorrow, today, yesterday' are never used with any prepositions. Look:

This morning, I did not have breakfast.

Every night, I go to the gym.

2. 'In' as a Preposition of Place

Use

In is used to show the location of something. It has three main uses:

  • In is used to show an area within a larger area. For example:

I work in this room.

I am in France.

  • In is used to show the location inside a building. For example:

I am in the school.

She is in the hospital.

'She works at the hospital.' does not show any location.

  • In is used to show the position inside enclosed or semi-enclosed areas. Look:

I have milk in my mug.

There are two books in my bag.

Tip

If we want to show our position regarding a car or a taxi, we use in.. For example:

I am in my car.

'In' Instead of 'Into'

In can be used instead of 'into' in some case, like:

Jump in the river.

This sentence could be 'jump into the river.'

Position in a Sentence

In as the preposition of place is used before nouns that show a place. Remember that determiners are often used after the preposition of place in. Look:

I have milk in my mug.

'My' is a determiner.

3. 'In' as the Preposition of Manner

Use

In as the preposition of manner is used to show how something is done. For example:

I write this text in Spanish.

It shows how the speaker writes.

I am in such a hurry that I forgot what I wanted to say.

She was talking to me in tears.

She was talking while she was crying.

Position in a Sentence

In as the preposition of manner is often followed by a determiner. For example:

She talked to me in a soft voice.

'In' is followed by the article 'a' and the adjective 'soft.'

I write this text in Spanish.

'In' is not followed by a determiner.

Fronting and Stranding

As we said earlier, prepositions precede nouns or noun phrases but when we use a verb with particles and the relative pronouns or interrogative pronouns like who, whom, and which, the preposition in is fronted or stranded. Like:

In whom do you believe?

The preposition 'in' fronts 'whom.'

Whom do you believe in?

'In' is stranded.

4. 'In' as an Adverb

Use

In as an adverb is used to add more information to a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. Take a look:

  • In as an adverb means 'inside, toward the inside.' For example:

I opened the door in.

Can you bring them in?

  • In is used with the the verb 'be' to mean something in under control. Look:

When everything is in, we can continue.

Position in a Sentence

In as an adverb is used to add extra information to the verb. So, it comes after verbs. Look:

Could you bring him in?

'In' is after 'bring.'

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