Prepositions are usually only a few letters long, but that doesn’t stop them from having a big impact on the meaning of certain phrases. This article will explore the differences between “in the street” and “on the street.”
Is It “In The Street” Or “On The Street”?
“On the street” is correct when referring to someone living in a house facing a street. We can use it to talk about general living positions. “In the street” is correct when referring to someone being in the middle of a road or living within a street’s enclosed area.
So, you might see these two sentences:
- I live on the street.
- I am in the street.
“On” means your house faces toward the road of the street. “In” implies you’re physically in the middle of the street (i.e. in the middle of the road).
What Does “In The Street” Mean?
“In the street” means in the middle of the street. Usually, this refers to whatever is in the center of a street (usually a road), and people will be doing some kind of action there.
- I’m dancing in the street, and I can’t help but move my feet.
- You should see me in the street. I love playing ball with the guys out there.
- I’m not going in the street. It’s dangerous. What if a car comes by?
- You will see him in the street sometime. Just look out for him.
- I don’t want you in the street. It’s very dangerous, and you should be careful!
What Does “On The Street” Mean?
“On the street” refers to a geographical location. “On” works best when referring to something you can stand on top of, which makes sense considering we stand on streets when we use them.
- I live on the street, but I won’t tell you which house.
- He lives somewhere on the street. Do you know which one is his?
- I don’t want to be out on the street. I think it’s really dangerous out here.
- You should be on the street with the rest of your mates. It’s more fun out there.
- She lives with me on the street. You should visit us sometime.
Are “In The Street” And “On The Street” Interchangeable?
“In the street” and “on the street” are not interchangeable in most cases. They might overlap in meaning when we refer to a house built directly in the middle of an enclosed street.
If (and only if) this rare circumstance is the case, you can say:
- I live in/on the street.
Both prepositions would be correct to refer to the position of your house relative to the street.
Is It Ever Correct To Use “At The Street”?
“At the street” is correct in more specific circumstances. We use it when we have agreed to meet someone along a specific street, and we say we are “at the street” when we have arrived at the place they’ve named.
- I am at the street you mentioned, so you should come out now.
- I’ll be at the street in a little bit. Just bear with me!
However, it’s not a very common way to say it. People still prefer using “on” when referring to this situation.
According to Google Ngram Viewer, “on the street” is the most popular choice. “In the street” is also fairly popular, but we can see that “at the street” barely gets used at all.
Is It “I Am On The Street” Or “I Am In The Street”?
“I am on the street” is correct when we are referring to a physical location. “On” means above, and we are physically standing “on” the street. “I am in the street” is only correct when you are standing in the middle of the road on the street.
- I am on the street you mentioned.
- I am in the street, and you should join me!
Is It “Playing In The Street” Or “Playing On The Street”?
“Playing in the street” is correct when referring to someone or a group of people playing in the middle of a street. It’s much more common for people to choose to do this, so “in” is the more likely choice. “Playing on the street” can also work, but it’s less popular.
- We are playing in the street. You should join in!
- I will be playing on the street with them.
Is It “Dancing In The Street” Or “Dancing On The Street”?
“Dancing in the street” only works when talking about someone dancing in the middle of the road of the street. “Dancing on the street” alternatively refers to someone dancing on the pavement and not in the middle of the street.
- I am dancing in the street, and I don’t care what happens.
- You’re dancing on the street like a maniac!
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.