Russian Prepositions в and на: how to use them correctly

It’s been a long time since I last posted. It’s the end of March, so why don’t we learn some grammar? Prepositions в and на, for examle.

Russian prepostions в and на can be very tricky at times. Generally, в is very similar to the English “in”, and на is similar to “on”. But there are many moments that might seem strange to foreigners.

Let’s start with the simple idea. When we use в that means that something is inside. When we use на, it means that something is on the surface of something.


Яблоко лежит на столе. – The apple is (is lying) on the table.

Яблоко лежит в холодильнике. – The apple is (is lying) in the fridge.

It seems quite easy, doesn’t it? But when we talk about directions, for instance, there might be a problem. We don’t have an equivalent of “to” for directions. We use the same prepositions of the place – в and на. And it can be very confusing:

Я иду в школу. – I’m going to school.

Я иду на почту. – I’m going to the post-office.

Well, to be honest we use в almost all the time when we talking about going to some place.

в школу – to school
в магазин – to the store
в супермаркет – to the supermarket
в банк – to the bank
в детский сад – to kindergarten
в больницу – to the hospital
в театр – to the theatre
в кино(театр) – to the cinema
в офис – to the office
в парк – to a park

But what’s wrong with the post-office??? Well, I don’t know. Just remember it.

There are many exceptions, I guess. Another one is кухня:

Я иду на кухню. – I’m going to the kitchen.

Я на кухне. – I’m in the kitchen.

And that’s not all. We use на pretty often when we talk about going somewhere:

на работу – to work
на репетицию – to rehearsal
на концерт – to the concert
на соревнования – to the competition/to the tournament
на собеседование – for a job interview
на занятия – to the classes

Prepositions на and в in Russian

You can notice that those nouns aren’t physical places but rather abstract ideas of what you are going to do there (events, actions). At the sime time the same preposition is used if you need to answer the question “Where?”.

на работе – at work
на репетиции – at rehearsal
на концерте – at the concert
на соревнованиях – at the competition/at the tournament
на собеседовании – in a job interview
на занятиях – in class

в школе – at school/in a school
в магазине – at/in the store
в банке – in/at the bank

You should also remember that на is used with stations and stops:

на железнодорожной станции/на железнодорожную станцию – at the railway station/to the railway station
на автобусной остановке/на автобусную остановку – at the bust stop/to the bus stop

Prepositions на and в also can make a problem when talking about informations media:

в газете – in the paper
в журнале – in the magazine
в книге – in the book
в интернете – on the internet


на радио – on the radio (Note: here we use по more often: Я слушаю песню по радио. – I’m listening to a song on the radio, but in sentences such as “I work in radio” we use на)
на диске – on a disk
на флешке (на флеш-карте) – on a flash drive
на компьютере – (в компьютере is also possible but less common) – on a computer

When we talk about copying files, for instance, we use same prepositions:

на диск – to disk/on a disk
на флешку – to a flash drive
на компьютер – to a computer

Скопируй песню на этот диск. – Copy the song to this disk.
Мне надо скачать этот файл на свой компьютер. – I need to download this file to my computer.

but “в” is also possible in some cases (imput of data):

Мне нужно внести данные в компьютер. – I need to enter data to the computer.

If you have any questions, just leave them in the comment section. I’ll be glad to help you and add some new information to this article.

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