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On vs. At: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Published on December 11, 2023
"On" typically indicates a position atop a surface or an occurrence on a specific day, whereas "at" is used for specific points in time or precise locations.

Key Differences

"On" is often used to denote a position atop a surface or being in contact with it, like "on the table." "At," in contrast, points to a precise location or place, such as "at the corner of the street."
For time, "on" is used with days and dates ("on Monday"), while "at" is for precise times ("at 5 PM"). This distinction helps in scheduling and temporal descriptions.
"On" can denote engagement in an activity ("on a call"), whereas "at" often refers to attendance at a location-based event ("at the concert"). These prepositions frame actions and events differently.
In digital terms, "on" refers to being active on a platform ("on the internet"), while "at" can denote a specific digital location ("at this URL"). This reflects their adaptable roles in modern language.
Both "on" and "at" have figurative uses. "On" can imply continuation ("on track"), and "at" can indicate a state or condition ("at peace"). This demonstrates their versatile applications beyond literal meanings.

Comparison Chart

Surface or Position

Top of or touching a surface
Specific point or location

Time Reference

Days and dates
Precise times

Event Context

Engagement in activities
Attendance at events

Digital Use

Active on platforms
Specific digital locations

Figurative Meaning

Continuation or progress
State or condition

On and At Definitions


On indicates being atop a surface.
The book is on the table.


At is used for specific points in time.
The show starts at 8 PM.


On denotes a specific day or date.
The meeting is on Friday.


At indicates a precise location or place.
Meet me at the entrance.


On can imply engagement in an activity.
She is on a call.


At can denote a state or condition.
She is at peace.


On is used in the context of electronic devices.
The TV is on.


At is used in email addresses.
Contact me at [email protected]


On signifies continuation or progress.
We are on track to finish the project.


At refers to attendance at a location-based event.
He was at the conference yesterday.


Used to indicate position above and supported by or in contact with
The vase is on the table. We rested on our hands and knees.


In or near the area occupied by; in or near the location of
At the market.
At our destination.


Used to indicate contact with or extent over (a surface) regardless of position
A picture on the wall.
A rash on my back.


In or near the position of
Always at my side.
At the center of the page.


When should I use 'on' instead of 'at'?

Use 'on' for surfaces and days, and 'at' for specific locations and times.

How do I use 'on' in a digital context?

Use 'on' for being active on platforms, like "on Facebook".

Can 'at' refer to conditions or states?

Yes, 'at' can indicate a state, like "at ease".

How is 'on' used figuratively?

Figuratively, 'on' can imply continuation, like "on track".

Can 'at' be used for events?

Yes, use 'at' for attendance at events, like "at a concert".

Is 'on' correct for physical contact?

Yes, like "The hat is on his head".

Can 'on' be used for times?

'On' is used for days and dates, not specific times.

Can 'at' denote participation in activities?

'At' usually refers to location, not participation.

How is 'at' used in a sentence?

'At' is used for specific locations or times, like "at 5 PM".

Is 'on' used for electronic devices?

Yes, 'on' denotes an active state, like "The TV is on".

Can 'at' be used for online locations?

Yes, like "at this website".

Is 'at' appropriate for email addresses?

Yes, 'at' is used in email addresses, denoted by '@'.

Is 'at' used in expressions?

Yes, in expressions like "at a glance".

Is 'on' used in idiomatic expressions?

Yes, like "on the same page".

Is 'on' used for transportation?

Yes, like "on the bus", denoting being aboard.

Can 'at' be used for days or dates?

No, use 'on' for days and dates.

How does 'on' work in technology terms?

'On' denotes operation, like "The system is on".

What's the role of 'on' in sports commentary?

'On' can indicate participation, like "on the field".

Can 'at' be used for physical proximity?

Yes, like "standing at the door".

How does 'at' interact with other prepositions?

'At' can be combined with others for precision, like "at the end of".
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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