Is it true that in American English, in school is more common whereas British English favours at school? Somehow, I can't bring myself to use the former unless I feel the need to emphasize the person is in the building. Would an American find it funny if they read or heard the sentence, "She is at school"?
I agree that Americans would normally say in response to a "where" question: She's at school. I left my backpack at school. I met my best friend at school.
But I would say "Mary is still in school" to mean she hasn't graduated yet.Or, when I was in school, I think we had more difficult subject matter than today.
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The main difference between BrE and AmE with this question is not one of location but one of being of school age.
If you are talking about where someone is actually physically located, I believe that both AmE and BrE would say "She is at school".
However, if you asked about a child's age or their educational situation, there might be a difference.
- Is your daughter at university these days?
- No. She's only 15. She's still at school.
- Is your daughter in college these days?
- No. She's only 15. She's still in school.