American English

Definition of in preposition from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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  1. 1For the special uses of in in phrasal verbs, look at the entries for the verbs. For example, deal in something is in the phrasal verb section at deal. at a point within an area or a space a country in Africa The kids were playing in the street. It's in that drawer. I read about it in the paper.
  2. 2within the shape of something; surrounded by something She was lying in bed. sitting in an armchair Leave the key in the lock. Soak it in cold water.
  3. 3into something He dipped his brush in the paint. She got in her car and drove off.
  4. 4forming the whole or part of something or someone; contained within something or someone There are 31 days in May. all the paintings in the collection I recognize his father in him (= his character is similar to his father's).
  5. 5during a period of time in 2012 in the 18th century in spring/summer/winter in the fall in March in the morning/afternoon/evening I'm getting forgetful in my old age.
  6. 6after a particular length of time to return in a few minutes/hours/days/months. It will be ready in a week (= one week from now). She learned to drive in three weeks (= after three weeks she could drive).
  7. 7(used in negative sentences or after first, last, etc.) for a particular period of time I haven't seen him in years. It's the first rain we've had in ten days.
  8. 8wearing something dressed in their best clothes the man in the hat to be in uniform She was all in black.
  9. 9used to describe physical surroundings We went out in the rain. He was sitting alone in the darkness.
  10. 10used to show a state or condition I'm in love! The house is in good repair. I must put my affairs in order. a man in his thirties The daffodils were in full bloom.
  11. 11involved in something; taking part in something to act in a play
  12. 12used to show someone's job or profession He is in the army. She's in computers. in business
  13. 13used to show the form, shape, arrangement, or quantity of something a novel in three parts Roll it up in a ball. They sat in rows. People flocked in the thousands to see her.
  14. 14used to show the language, material, etc. used Say it in English. She wrote in pencil. Put it in writing. I paid in cash. He spoke in a loud voice.
  15. 15concerning something She was not lacking in courage. a country rich in minerals three yards in length
  16. 16while doing something; while something is happening In attempting to save the child from drowning, she nearly lost her own life. In all the commotion, I forgot to tell him the news.
  17. 17used to introduce the name of a person who has a particular quality We're losing a first-rate editor in Jen.
  18. 18used to show a rate or relative amount a gradient of one in five a dropout rate of one in ten
  19. Idioms
    NAmE//ɪn ðət//
    (formal) for the reason that; because She was fortunate in that she had friends to help her.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: in