The word in has a number of different uses in English. You probably know that in is a preposition, but did you also know that in also used as an adverb, an adjective, and even a noun? Today, let’s have a look at the various uses of this interesting little word.
Using in as a preposition
We use in when we show that something is enclosed or surrounded by something else
- Jack is in the office today. The office surrounds Jack.
- The pen is in the desk drawer. The desk drawer is the enclosure of the pen.
We also use the preposition in when we talk about periods of time. Keep in mind we use at for clock time, and on for days and dates. In is used for all other time periods:
- We went to Rome in July.
- I was pretty busy in the morning, so I relaxed in the afternoon.
- The Beatles were quite popular in the 1960’s.
In is also used to show the time between the present time, and a future event:
- I’ll be there in 10 minutes. I will be there 10 minutes from now.
- The repair work should be finished in a week. The repair work should be finished one week from today.
We also use in when we want to express the length of time it take to complete something:
- I cooked dinner in 20 minutes! It took 20 minutes to cook dinner.
- He finished the race in two hours. It was a record!
We also use in with nouns that expressing a state or condition:
- Jack is in his late twenties.
- Lori and Nick are so in love!
- All of bottles are in line with the front of the shelf.
In can be used to describe the industry in which a person works:
- Michael works in international education.
- Jane has been working in sales for a long time.
In is also used when we talk about the language used, or a musical key:
- In that opera, they sing in Italian.
- That symphony is in the key of G minor.
Using in as an adverb
As an adverb, in is used after some verbs of motion that result in something enclosed or surrounded by another thing:
- The fresh air blew in.
- Come in! The door is open.
- The door was broken, and we were locked in.
We use get in to mean arrive:
- I got in late this morning, but the boss wasn’t so upset.
- What time does your train get in?
Using in as an adjective
When we use in as an adjective, it means present or in attendance:
- I’m sorry, Jack’s not in today. He’s home with a cold.
- I won’t be in tomorrow. I have to take my car for service.
As well, in the adjective means popular, in fashion, or trendy.
- In the 1980’s, big shoulder pads were in.
- Smoking cigarettes was in during the last century, but these days fewer and fewer people are smoking.
Using in as a noun
Lastly, as a noun, we use in with to show a position of influence or influential ability:
- Bob has an in with the manager because he is married to the manager’s cousin.
- I may be able to help you. I have an in with someone in the music business.
Well, that’s a lot of uses for in. If you know of any others, why not share your ideas in the comment section below.
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