Street English

“I love the idea of the street vibe, having folks together, out in the street at midnight.”

Sean Paul, a Jamaican rapper, singer and record producer

If you are sometimes (or always) confused about the use of articles with proper names (names used for an individual person, place, or organization, spelled with an initial capital letter), you’ll find the following information very useful:

We don’t use any article with most names of streets:

I live in Oxford Street.

Wall Street is a street at the south end of Manhattan, where the New York Stock Exchange and other leading American financial institutions are located.

I’ve always dreamed to walk down Fifth Avenue. 

There is a good dental clinic in Harley Street.

EXCEPTIONS:

The Arbat (but Arbat Street) (Moscow), the Mall (London), the Freedom Trail (Boston), the FDR Drive (New York City).

Note that you need to use the with main street and high street (British English). These are not proper names but there is usually only one main street in a town or a city. That’s why it’s logical to use the definite article with these phrases:

There is some trouble in the high street. 

Turn left and follow the main street down to the intersection at Parkhotel Richmond.

ON / IN + STREET

In fact, the question of the preposition is a matter of British-American English in this case. Britons would use “in”, while Americans would use “on”. To remember it, think about old narrow English streets. Something or somebody could really be found IN those streets.

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There are many people in the street. 

Now imagine wide American streets. It’s like something is ON that street surface.

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Now we are up on the main street. 

These days, however, streets are being widened everywhere for transport reasons. That’s why on the street would sound pretty natural everywhere.

I wouldn’t like to bump into my ex-boyfriend in/on the street.

I don’t like it when people eat in/on the street – it often looks messy.

When we give an address or mention the name of some street, the same principle of “in/on” applies:

My house is in/on Cherry Street.

That boutique in/on Fifth Avenue is amazingly expensive!

There are some synonyms for “in/on the street”: outside, outdoors, out-of-doors/out of doors:

The dog was still barking outside.

Let them go outdoors and play.

Food tastes even better out of doors.

Mind certain street idioms:

  1. The man/woman on (American English)/in (British English) the street– an ordinary, average person whose opinions are considered to represent most people:

I am just a man in/on the street and I don’t think I can really change the world.

  1. To be streets ahead– to be much better or much more advanced than another thing or person:

We are streets ahead of the competitors and I’d like to congratulate all of us on this!

  1. To be up your street (British English)/valley (American English) – to be the type of thing that you are interested in or that you enjoy doing:

Painting is not up my street. I won’t be able to paint anything but a simple flower.
My job is right up my valley – I love it!

  1. On the streets– without a home:

The government should help people on the streets.

  1. The streets are paved with gold– it is said about a place where it is easy to get rich, or where people think that it is:

In New York the streets are paved with gold. That’s what many people believe in. Personally, I think it’s a wrong belief. 

  1. To be in the same street/box/boat with sb.– to be in the same situation as someone else:

We are in the same street, so let’s help each other.

We hope English is up your valley and you won’t forget to like this article and follow our blog! 😉