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Thread: In/at school


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    #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!

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    #2

    Re: In/at school

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


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    #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!

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    #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..

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    #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.

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    #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?

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    #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.

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    #8

    Re: In/at school

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    In BrE we usually say "at school" to means studying at a primary or secondary level educational establishment. For example, "Where is John today?", "He's at school".
    Good afternoon teacher,

    I have read this "little struggle" about the use of these two prepositions and sometimes people use 'at' to show us that the person is outside a house or a construction, but I can see it depends of the countries.

    If I summarize the different uses of 'at' and 'in', I think it's better to have a bigger article or extract of the whole text, to see clearly the meaning of the writer. Like in French, we can find in writting text 'Je suis ŕ (at) l'école' and 'Je suis dans (in) l'école'.

    It seems to me that the border line between these two words isn't very tall.

    I like precision but in this case, I prefer stay with my perception of both words.

    Thanks for you reply and have snowy day.


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    #9

    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?

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    #10

    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.

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