prepositions in and on written on a blackboardPrepositions (in, on, at, by, with…) are, along with articles (a, an, the), probably the most frustrating aspect of English vocabulary for most students.

One of the reasons may be that these are the words students generally pay less attention to while they are trying to learn new words and memorize a seemingly indefinite number of verb forms and verb combinations. That’s why it’s important to learn words, whatever they are, in phrases instead of as a list of separate items. When learning a foreign language, it’s not only important to learn the meaning and use of individual words, but also relations among words.

Secondly, since they appear to be simple and can be translated in Croatian (in, at = u, on = na, with = s…), a lot of students rely on translation from Croatian to English. However, the meaning of prepositions in all the contexts they are used in is not the same. Therefore, they cannot always be translated in Croatian with one single word. The examples below will show how translating from Croatian to English can lead to the use of the wrong preposition.

na engleskom
I don’t know how to say that on English.
I don’t know how to say that in English.

na slici
The products are shown on the picture below.
The products are shown in the picture below.

na aerodromu
I asked them to organize a car to meet me on the airport.
I asked them to organize a car to meet me at the airport.

na početku
On the beginning of the workshop, the participants introduced themselves.
At the beginning of the workshop, the participants introduced themselves.
On the beginning, the company employed 10 people.
In the beginning, the company employed 10 people.

na kraju
My office is on the end of the corridor.
My office is at the end of the corridor.
We were looking at laptops, but on the end we decided to buy a table.
We were looking at laptops, but in the end we decided to buy a tablet.

na sastanku
I can’t talk now, I’m on a meeting.
I can’t talk now, I’m in a meeting.

na svijetu
I think I work at the best company on the world.
I think I work at the best company in the world.

na nebu
They spotted a plane on the sky.
They spotted a plane in the sky.

na pravom mjestu u pravo vrijeme
The police were on the right place in the right time.
The police were in the right place at the right time.

u ponedjeljak
See you in Friday.
See you on Friday.

u tri sata
The meeting starts in three o’clock.
The meeting starts at three o’clock.

u avionu
They only serve a bag of potato chips in the plane.
They only serve a bag of potato chips on the plane.

 

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