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    #1

    Question at/in

    Hello guys,

    PPl do tend to use these two prepositions interchangeably [to refer to location], right? However, more often than not, ESL learners are sometimes taught the differences, say, at is referring to a specific place/a point and in is referring to something like the interiority of an area.

    E.g.
    I study at/in University.
    I'll wait for you at/in the cinema.

    what're the minor differences? Thanks!

  1. SlickVic9000's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: at/in

    (Not a Teacher)

    Sometimes "at" and "in" are interchangeable, sometimes they aren't. For both of your sentences, I would use "at"

    "I am studying at UCLA."

    -- "In" just doesn't sound quite right here. No particular rule, I think, that's just how it's expressed.

    "I'll wait for you at the movie theater."

    -- You could use "in" here, but it would imply that you will be waiting inside the theater. "At" is non-specific. It simply means that you will be hanging out somewhere in the vicinity of the theater.
    Last edited by SlickVic9000; 16-Jan-2012 at 20:37.

  2. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: at/in

    Right. Let's say it's really cold out. Then saying "I'll wait for you in..." makes sense because you're in the buidling, where it's warm.
    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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    #4

    Re: at/in

    Quote Originally Posted by Tedwonny View Post
    Hello guys,

    PPl do tend to use these two prepositions interchangeably [to refer to location], right? However, more often than not, ESL learners are sometimes taught the differences, say, at is referring to a specific place/a point and in is referring to something like the interiority of an area.

    E.g.
    I study at/in University.
    I'll wait for you at/in the cinema.

    what're the minor differences? Thanks!
    In addition to SlickVic9000's response, if the speaker and the listener knew which university was being referenced, in AmE we would say "I study at the university". And if the speaker was simply responding, for example, to the question "Do you study?", one might say, "Yes, I study at a university".

  3. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: at/in

    Bill, don't you find it more likely that you'd say "Yeah, I'm in college." or "Yeah, I go to..." than "I study at a university"?
    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

    Re: at/in

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    Bill, don't you find it more likely that you'd say "Yeah, I'm in college." or "Yeah, I go to..." than "I study at a university"?
    Well, I think you could find/create a situation/context for either, but I probably should have been more specific in my original response. The reason I underlined the articles (a/the) in my examples was to show that most often/always in AmE we use an article with reference to a university in the absence of the name of the university.

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