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Friends,

I'm an English teacher and I would like to know from you, experts, whether I am teaching prepositions correctly or not, for this is a very difficult subject for students to learn, here in Brazil.

Could you please correct me or add some more pieces of information? I appreciate it.

This is how I am teaching.

PREPOSITIONS OF PLACE

IN

- to say something or somebody is inside a place:
The car is in the garage. (inside the garage)
The student is in the classroom. (inside the classroom)

- with regions (cardinal points, continents, countries, states, cities and suburbs/districts):
in the North / in North America / in the US / in New York / in New York City / in Manhattan

AT

- to talk about a place as a reference (not specific):
I am at the mall. (I can be anywhere at the mall: inside it; at the parking lot; on the street, in front of it. I'm using the word "mall" as a reference point.)

- when we use objects, refering to a place:
I am at the table. (tabel is not a place)
I am at the computer. (computer is not a place)
Someone is at the door. (door is not a place)

- when we use events, refering to a place:
I am at the party. (party is not a place)
I am at the meeting. (meeting is not a place)

- when we use people, refering to a place:
I am at the dentist. (dentist is not a place)
My car is at the mechanic. (mechanic is not a place)

- with the name of a place:
We are at McDonald's.

- with addresses (street and number):
I live at 351 First Avenue.

ON

- when the place can be figured as a line formart:
on the river / on the street / on the road / on the beach (the shoreline)

- when the place can be figured as a surface:
The book is on the table.
The picture is on the wall.
I am writing on the paper.

We are on the beach. (the surface of the beach, the sand)

FROM

- to talk about origin:
I am from the UK.
This text is from that book.
I drink water from the tap.

NEXT TO, BESIDE

- only when two or more places share borders:
Walking down the street, there are three houses - house A, house B and house C - one after another.
House A is next to / beside house B. (Here we can also use NEAR.)
House B is next to / beside house C. (Here we can also use NEAR.)
House A is near house C. (Here we can not use NEXT TO / BESIDE. We use NEAR only.)

We use NEAR whether two or more places share borders or not.

PREPOSITIONS OF TIME

IN

- with ages, millenniums, centuries, decades, years, seasons, months, parts of the day and future:
in the Middle Ages / in the 1st millennium / in the 21st century / in the '90s / in 1998 / in Summer / in December / in the morning / in ten minutes

AT

- with specific time, special dates without the word DAY, time expressions:
at five o'clock / at Easter / at Christmas / at the age / at that time / at the beginning / at the end / at the moment

ON

- with a specific date, weekdays, with the word DAY, special dates with the word DAY:
on July 4th / on Monday / on the weekend / on the day I was born / on Mother's day

Thank you for your attention.

brunces
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Sorry, I haven't checked this for completeness -- in other words, I haven't tried to think of uses that you haven't mentioned (that's quite a bit more difficult!).

I'm a British English speaker. There may be some differences here between American English and British English usage.

It looks largely OK to me. A few comments:

I am at the dentist. -- More properly, I would say "at the dentist's" ("the dentist's" means the dentist's surgery). However, I think "at the dentist" is fairly common, possibly influenced by the fact that "dentist's" is more effort to say distinctly.
My car is at the mechanic. -- I wouldn't say this. I would say "My car is with the mechanic", "My car is at the garage".

on the street -- you can also say "in the street".

on the road -- you can also say "in the road".

NEXT TO, BESIDE -- what you say seems fine, but in everyday conversation "next to" is, in most contexts, rather more common than "beside".

in ten minutes -- this is fine, but it's a different sense of "in" to the other phrases you mention. It means "in ten minute's time".

at the beginning/end -- you can also say "in the beginning/end" (slightly different nuance of meaning)

on the weekend -- this is not natural to me; I'd say "at the weekend". However, there are vast numbers of Google hits for "on the weekend", and possibly it's prevalent with other categories of English speakers (American English?)
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brunces
Mr Wordyon the weekend -- this is not natural to me; I'd say "at the weekend". However, there are vast numbers of Google hits for "on the weekend", and possibly it's prevalent with other categories of English speakers (American English?)
I can confirm that it's "on the weekend", never "at the weekend", for almost all Americans.

CJ
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Torrance dentist
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