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Thread: In/at school

  1. #11
    Linguist__ is offline Senior Member
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    Re: In/at school

    I believe this is one of those situations where you cannot stick to your rules of prepositions and what they mean or how they differ form one another.

    Saying, "he's at school" certainly doesn't mean he is outside the building; it means the same as "he's in school" or even less ambiguous - "he's attending school".

    The same can be said of many prepositions - rules for differentiating aren't rules, merely guidelines. Why, for example, are you in a car, but on a bus?

  2. #12
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    Re: In/at school

    Quote Originally Posted by Linguist__ View Post
    Why, for example, are you in a car, but on a bus?
    Because buses were originally single or double decker, open topped forms of trasport.

  3. #13
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    Re: In/at school

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    Because buses were originally single or double decker, open topped forms of trasport.
    And we just overgeneralised this to all modes of public transport? That is, "on a bus/train/plane".

  4. #14
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    Re: In/at school

    The word "at" can be used to indicate the inside of a building (or other structure) or the the outside (near) a building (or other structure).
    .

    Q: Where were you?
    A: I was at the library. (Inside)

    A: Where are you?
    A: I'm at the library. (Outside)

  5. #15
    sitifan is offline Senior Member
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    Re: In/at school

    Quote Originally Posted by Linguist__ View Post
    And we just overgeneralised this to all modes of public transport? That is, "on a bus/train/plane".
    'On' for commercial airliners.
    'In' for private planes/light aircraft.
    'Be up in a plane' = fixed expression
    ESL Forums • View topic - on the plane or in the plane

  6. #16
    Linguist__ is offline Senior Member
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    Re: In/at school

    Quote Originally Posted by sitifan View Post
    'On' for commercial airliners.
    'In' for private planes/light aircraft.
    'Be up in a plane' = fixed expression
    ESL Forums • View topic - on the plane or in the plane
    Wow, I was kind of saying 'in' for private transport (car, taxi, private plane) and 'on' for public as a joke. It seems to be somewhat valid!

    There are occasion where it is very clear - on a bed vs. in a bed.

    However, even after 18 years of speaking English, there are still times I don't know which to use - in a hammock, on a hammock, is one example.

  7. #17
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    Re: In/at school

    Quote Originally Posted by sitifan View Post
    Why are you in a boat, but on a ship?
    When we are in a boat, we are in a hollow space formed by the hull of the boat. When we are on a ship, we are on a deck. That's my take on it ayway.

  8. #18
    sitifan is offline Senior Member
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    Re: In/at school

    Hi,
    We can say in a small boat. But is it possible to say on a small boat?As I said, either is possible and much depends on the context, but stick with 'on' as a general rule.
    What's the difference between in a ship and on a ship? Sailors use 'in a ship'. Non-sailors say 'on a ship'.
    Best wishes, Clive
    What boat are you __ now, may I ask?

  9. #19
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    Re: In/at school

    I've been on a boat. And I've been on a train. However, I have never flown on a plane.


  10. #20
    sitifan is offline Senior Member
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    Re: In/at school

    Quote Originally Posted by RonBee View Post
    I've been on a boat. And I've been on a train. However, I have never flown on a plane.

    You can fly on/in a plane.
    Either preposition is possible.
    I have never flown ___ a plane.

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