“At The Bottom”, “In The Bottom”, or “On The Bottom”?

The phrases “at the bottom”, “in the bottom” and “on the bottom” all have similar meanings. The task of correctly using each phrase in a sentence and in conversation can be confusing for any writer or reader. This brief guide will use example sentences to explore this topic further.

Is It “At The Bottom”, “In The Bottom”, Or “On The Bottom”?

All three phrases “at the bottom”, “in the bottom” and “on the bottom” are correct to use in a sentence. “At the bottom” is used to describe a specific place, “in the bottom” describes an enclosed space and “on the bottom” is used to describe a lower surface.

at the bottom in the bottom on the bottom

They all have different meanings when considering the prepositions “at”, “in” and “on” and the context of the sentence is also important. Sometimes the phrases can be used interchangeably.

The word “bottom” itself also has different meanings. “Bottom” can mean one side of a surface, the full lower area or volume, or the edge/surface.

Watch the video: Only 1 percent of ...
Watch the video: Only 1 percent of our visitors get these 3 grammar questions right...

What Does “At The Bottom” Mean?

The preposition “at” is used to describe a specific point or place, so the phrase “at the bottom” means the specific lower area of something.

Working out how to correctly use the phrase “at the bottom” in a sentence can be tricky. These simples example sentences should aid your understanding of how and when to use the phrase: “at the bottom”:

  • I have left my bag at the bottom of the hill by mistake so I’ll have to walk back down for it.
  • At the bottom of the street someone new has moved into the house that was for sale.
  • The car spun at the bottom of the hill and crashed into a large tree by the side of the road before the police arrived.
  • There are three wild horses running at the bottom of the valley and a farmer is chasing them in a tractor.

What Does “In The Bottom” Mean?

The preposition “in” is used when describing an enclosed space or a place or area that is surrounded by boundaries, so the phrase “in the bottom” means the lower area of an enclosed space.

The following useful example sentences should elevate your understanding of when to use the phrase “in the bottom” within written sentences or in conversation:

  • You should find lots of coins to use in the shops in the bottom of my purse.
  • There is a large hole in the bottom of Dan’s ship that is in need of urgent repair.
  • There is a sharp pin stuck in the bottom of one of my new shoes.
  • Tom, there is a hole in the bottom of your bucket and everything has fallen out.

What Does “On The Bottom” Mean?

The preposition “on” is used when describing a surface of something, so the phrase “on the bottom” means the lower surface of something.

Check out the following helpful example sentences including the phrase “on the bottom”. These examples should help your understanding of this phrase:

  • There are sand, fish, and shells on the bottom of the ocean floor.
  • Some large logs could be seen lying on the bottom of the lake amongst other debris.
  • I can see some dust on the bottom of the ornament in need of a good clean.
  • On the bottom of the fish tank some algae is beginning to grow; we need to clean the tank out.

Are “At The Bottom”, “In The Bottom”, And “On The Bottom” Interchangeable?

There are some crossovers in the correct usage for the phrases “at the bottom”, “in the bottom” and “on the bottom”. Some people use the three interchangeably, making understandable but less idiomatic sentences. Overall, however, these phrases are not interchangeable and differ in meaning.

For example, when referring to the bottom of a drawer, the preposition “in” is most natural to use in a sentence. It is possible to use “at” and “on” too, but using them in reference to the bottom of a drawer sounds awkward when writing and speaking the sentence.

Is “At The Bottom”, “In The Bottom”, Or “On The Bottom” Used The Most?

The phrase “at the bottom” is used more than both “in the bottom” and “on the bottom”.

This graph from Google Ngram Viewer shows the usage of the phrases “at the bottom”, “in the bottom” and “on the bottom” in the period 1800 to 2019. The red line represents the usage of “in the bottom”, the green line represents the use of “on the bottom” and the blue line represents “at the bottom”.

at the bottom in the bottom on the bottom english usage

As you can observe, the graph distinctly shows that the phrase “at the bottom” is the phrase used the most out of all three phrases. The phrases “in the bottom” and “on the bottom” are currently used approximately the same amount. “At the bottom” has been the most used phrase during the entire time period of 1800 to 2019.

Is It “At The Bottom Of The Page”, “In The Bottom Of The Page”, Or “On The Bottom Of The Page”?

The phrases “at the bottom of the page” and “on the bottom of the page” are correct to use in a sentence, but it is incorrect to use “in the bottom of the page” because this would not make sense in the sentence.

The phrase “at the bottom of the page” is usually used when referring to something which is positioned in the lower area of a page.

Take note of the following example sentence:

  • At the bottom of the page the author makes reference to the terrible atrocities that occurred during World War II.

The phrase “on the bottom of the page” is appropriately used in a sentence when indicating that something is literally on the surface of the page, or also possibly on the underside of the page.

Consult the following example sentence:

  • On the bottom of the page was a small tear in the paper which was growing bigger each time the page was turned.

As mentioned above, the phrase “in the bottom of the page” should not be used because it is incorrect. If this phrase is used in a sentence, the sentence will not make sense to the reader or listener.

You may also like: “At The Top” vs. “In The Top” vs. “On The Top”