Results 1 to 10 of 15

Thread: In/at school

Hybrid View

Previous Post Previous Post   Next Post Next Post

    • Join Date: Nov 2009
    • Posts: 6
    #1

    In/at school

    Hi, what's the difference between in/at?

    For example, when do we say "in school" and "at school"?
    Thank you!

  1. RonBee's Avatar
    Moderator
    Other
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Feb 2003
    • Posts: 16,546
    #2

    Re: In/at school

    We usually use "at" to denote a specific location.
    .
    Q: Where are you?
    A: I'm at school.


    • Join Date: Dec 2009
    • Posts: 570
    #3

    Re: In/at school

    (Not a teacher)

    Quote Originally Posted by RonBee View Post
    We usually use "at" to denote a specific location.
    .
    Q: Where are you?
    A: I'm at school.
    Perhaps it's just bad use of language, or American English vs. British English, but I find both 'in' and 'at' interchangeable in this case, and most other cases of places I can think of.

    "I met my friend at the pub", "I met my friend in the pub". I can't see any difference/problem with using either.

    I can see that 'school' doesn't require the article, but even so; "What did you do in school today?" sounds just as correct to me as "What did you do at school today?".

    Unless I just think I hear it!

  2. Key Member
    English Teacher
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Oriya
      • Home Country:
      • India
      • Current Location:
      • India

    • Join Date: Mar 2008
    • Posts: 2,116
    #4

    Exclamation Re: In/at school

    Quote Originally Posted by RonBee View Post
    We usually use "at" to denote a specific location.
    .
    Q: Where are you?
    A: I'm at school.
    I agree fully with RonBee, "I'm at..." refers to a specific, absolute location. This is what most teachers teach in early lessons on preposition. I am at Paris does not make any sense, you should rather say I am in Paris.(within the perimeter or boundary of Paris). You could also say: I am at the Eiffel tower in Paris.
    Let us try to understand the intrinsic differences between the two words which make the meaning clear: If I'm in the river, I'm either swimming and wet or I'm in (or on) a boat. If I'm at the river, I'm probably on the bank or really on land near the river.

    I am at school means near the school which is invariably outside may be at the gate..

    I am in school. means inside the school which is always within and not outside..

  3. Barb_D's Avatar
    Moderator
    Other
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Mar 2007
    • Posts: 19,062
    #5

    Re: In/at school

    Quote Originally Posted by sarat_106 View Post

    I am at school means near the school which is invariably outside may be at the gate..

    I am in school. means inside the school which is always within and not outside..
    No, I can't agree with this at all. "I'm at the school" or "I'm at the pub" or "I'm at the church" can certainly mean inside. It's a less general location.

    The real difference is I'm at school versus I'm at the school, or I'm at church versus I'm at the church.

    Without the article, you're there to attend, participate. With the article, it's just a building.

    But if you say "Where's Mary?" and the answer is "She's in/at school" (or she's in/at church) there's not a lot of difference.
    Last edited by Barb_D; 19-Dec-2009 at 13:47.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  4. Senior Member
    Student or Learner
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • French
      • Home Country:
      • France
      • Current Location:
      • France

    • Join Date: Jun 2009
    • Posts: 620
    #6

    Question Re: In/at school

    Hello Barbara,

    You wrote:

    The real difference is I'm at school versus I'm at the school, or I'm at church versus I'm at the church.

    Without the article, you're there to attend, participate. With the article, it's just a building.

    I have just read your answer and I am a little perplex, you are telling us that you are in the building when you say: ' I am at school' . I have always learnt that the preposition 'at' is used to show a special location and the other preposition 'in' it's for things or somebody who are in building or house.

    Do you believe , I'm wrong?

    See you later on the forum or in forum?

  5. bhaisahab's Avatar
    Moderator
    Retired English Teacher
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Ireland

    • Join Date: Apr 2008
    • Posts: 25,720
    #7

    Re: In/at school

    In BrE we usually say "at school" to mean studying at a primary or secondary level educational establishment. For example, "Where is John today?", "He's at school".
    Last edited by bhaisahab; 19-Dec-2009 at 19:58.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •