1. ## In/At/On?

Hi,

Could somebody please explain this to me?

In is used to express a position inside a place. It suggests three dimensions.

At is used to express a location at a point.(Does this mean at a time?) It suggests two dimensions.

I met my husband in Italy. He was in a shop, buying pasta. I was in a queue, waiting to buy some bread.

Why can we not say 'He was at a shop'?

Last night I was in the kitchen when I lost my glasses.

Can we not say I was at the kitchen? Why?

I was at Sally's house doing my homework.

Can we say I was in Sally's house doing my homework.

Could somebody please tell me a rule so that I can choose these prepositions correctly?

2. ## Re: In/At/On?

Originally Posted by maral55
Could somebody please explain this to me?

In is used to express a position inside a place. It suggests three dimensions.

At is used to express a location at a point.(Does this mean at a time?) It suggests two dimensions.
This is an interesting analysis. It doesn't quite hold true with some of your examples. Three dimensions are width, length and depth (or height); a cube or a box has three dimensions. Two dimensions are width and length; imagine a map or a flat square. At is also used for time, possibly because we regard time as one dimensional, moving only forward to the future or backward to the past.

I met my husband in Italy.

Wh
en speaking of a country, always use in, never at: I live in Germany. I met you in Singapore. The same goes for cities: Meet me in St. Louis. If it were an event or a specific building or location, you can use at: I will meet you at the airport. We met at a hotel in Spain. We'll see you at the party or at the beach.

He was in a shop, buying pasta. I was in a queue, waiting to buy some bread.

Why can we not say 'He was at a shop'?
We can say "He was at the shop" if we are speaking from a distance: He was at the store buying pasta, and I was across the street buying ice cream from a street vendor. In gives us the idea of being surrounded by something. In the store sets us inside the building where he is surrounded by the four walls and the roof of the building, and we can imagine the shelves of food and the clerk and the other customers all around us. At might give me a picture of the outside of the building or a location point on a map. He might be inside, but I don't see the environment surrounding him because I have a limited two-dimensional perspective. This text uses in because we are meant to visualize the location in three dimensions. She was inside the store with him, rather than at a distance. In the queue tells us that she is surrounded (on two sides in this case) by people waiting to buy things. There are people in front of her and behind her. If she were not thus surrounded, she could say, "I was at the front of the queue" or "I was at the end of the queue".

Last night I was in the kitchen when I lost my glasses.

Can we not say I was at the kitchen? Why?
We cannot say "at the kitchen" just as we cannot say "at a country". We must be inside, surrounded by the environment. We could say "at the kitchen door". In fact, since we cannot be surrounded by a door, it must be "at the door" or "in the doorway". But the kitchen is a room, a defined three-dimensional space which must surround whoever is there.

I was at Sally's house doing my homework.

Can we say I was in Sally's house doing my homework.
Yes, it depends on the distance you want to speak from and what pictures you want me to imagine. If you say "in Sally's house", I will imagine the environment inside of the house. If you say "at Sally's house", I may imagine her house from a distance or on a map.

3. ## Re: In/At/On?

Originally Posted by nonsense

When speaking of a country, always use in, never at: I live in Germany. I met you in Singapore. The same goes for cities: Meet me in St. Louis. If it were an event or a specific building or location, you can use at: I will meet you at the airport. We met at a hotel in Spain. We'll see you at the party or at the beach.

Hi, First of all, thank you very very much. I wish this forum had more than just one thank you and I could give it to you. Unfortunately my teacher never explains fact like you do.

Secondly, if it was about about an event or specific building or location is "in" wrong or is it better to use "at"?

I will meet you in the airport?

Thanks.

4. ## Re: In/At/On?

Oh, I forgot, that analysis was from the Headway book.

5. ## Re: In/At/On?

Hi there,
I don't understand the following explanation. What does it mean by 'imaging her house from a distance or on a map.'?

If you say "at Sally's house", I may imagine her house from a distance or on a map.

tks
pete

6. ## Re: In/At/On?

https://www.usingenglish.com/forum/a...r/97734-a.html

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