“In The Street” or “On The Street” – Difference Explained

Marcus Froland

Are you confused about the difference between ‘in the street’ and ‘on the street’? You’re not alone! These two phrases may seem similar, but they have different meanings.

In this article, we’ll explain when to use each phrase correctly and provide examples of how they are used in everyday language.

We will also look at the grammatical rules for both ‘in the street’ and ‘on the street’.

By the end of this article, you’ll be an expert on these two phrases!

Key Takeaways

  • ‘In the street’ refers to physical presence in a public area, while ‘on the street’ implies knowledge or awareness of something happening in that area.
  • ‘In the street’ is used when discussing physical presence, providing clarity in terms of location.
  • ‘On the street’ often implies inside information and is used to convey awareness of something happening in a specific area.
  • The distinction lies in the literal presence versus figurative knowledge or awareness.

Common Uses for ‘In The Street’ and ‘On The Street’

The two phrases, ‘in the street’ and ‘on the street’, can be used in different contexts. Typically, ‘in the street’ is used to refer to being physically present in a public area such as a road or sidewalk. For example: ‘I saw him walking in the street.’

On the other hand, ‘on the street’ is usually used to express that someone has knowledge of something that is not widely known or available. In this usage it often implies inside information. An example would be: ‘I heard from someone on the street that they were going to close down their store.’

Both of these terms are commonly used to provide more clarity when discussing various topics.

Distinguishing Factors Between ‘In the Street’ and ‘On the Street’

You’ll notice a difference between being ‘in the street’ and being ‘on the street’; let’s break it down.

Being ‘in the street’ typically refers to a physical location, such as standing in the middle of a road or walkway.

Conversely, being ‘on the street’ typically implies more figurative positioning — like having knowledge about something or being aware of something going on in an area.

To put it simply, when you’re in the street, you’re actually there; when you’re on the street, you have knowledge about what is happening in that particular place.

Thus, if someone were to say they are ‘on the streets,’ they may mean they have insights regarding what is occurring in their neighborhood or city.

Examples of ‘In The Street’ and ‘On The Street’

Knowing the difference between ‘in the street’ and ‘on the street’ can be confusing, so here are some examples to help you get a better idea.

For instance, if you hear someone say they’re ‘in the street,’ they may mean that they are walking along or standing in a road.

On the other hand, if someone says they are ‘on the street,’ it usually means that they are homeless or living on the streets without a permanent residence.

Another example is when talking about music – if someone says they’re listening to something ‘in the street,’ it could mean that they heard it while out and about in public places like parks or malls.

Conversely, if someone says that they listen to something ‘on the street,’ then it means that they heard it from people who perform on sidewalks or other public spaces for tips.

All of these phrases have distinct meanings which can help you understand them more clearly.

Grammatical Rules of ‘In The Street’ and ‘On The Street’

When using ‘in the street’ and ‘on the street,’ it’s important to know the grammatical rules that apply:

  • Prepositions are key: use ‘in’ for a general location, and ‘on’ for a specific place.

  • Adjectives must be used correctly: don’t say ‘I’m walking on streets,’ as this implies multiple streets, when you mean ‘I’m walking on the street.’

  • Verbs should match nouns: if you see something in or on a street, use the verb accordingly.

For instance, you can say ‘He is standing in the street’ or ‘She is standing on the sidewalk.’

When To Use ‘In The Street’ and ‘On The Street’

Understanding when to use ‘in the street’ and ‘on the street’ can be tricky; however, there are a few key rules that can help.

Generally, if you are referring to something that is actually in the street itself, either physically or figuratively, you should use “in”. This could include things like parked cars, graffiti on walls, or even people walking around. For instance, you might say “I saw a man in the street today.”

On the other hand, if you’re referencing something related to the street from outside of it – such as a building located on it – then “on” is more appropriate. So for example: “There’s a cafe on this street.”

Just remember these simple rules and you’ll never get confused about which one to use!


No matter which preposition you choose to use, it’s important to be precise in your language. Whether you’re talking about being ‘in the street’ or ‘on the street’, each phrase has a distinct meaning and can have different implications.

So, if you want to avoid confusion and ensure accuracy in your writing, make sure to double-check that you’re using the right one for the situation. You should also remember that both phrases should only be used when referring to streets as opposed to other types of roads.

That way, you can rest assured that your words are communicating exactly what you mean!