[Grammar] in/at the canteen

Status
Not open for further replies.

angelene001

Member
Joined
Mar 21, 2012
Member Type
Interested in Language
Native Language
Polish
Home Country
Poland
Current Location
Poland
I've got a huge problem with the prepositions "at" and "in" when I talk about places such a restaurant, canteen, etc.

I eat lunches at my school canteen.
but
The staff in my school canteen is very friendly.

Correct?
 

Grumpy

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 12, 2009
Member Type
Interested in Language
Native Language
English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
UK
In general use, they are completely interchangeable - unless you want to make it clear that you are actually inside the premises. Saying just "I'll meet you at the restaurant" may result in you sitting waiting at your table, while your date paces up and down the street outside....
 

5jj

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Oct 14, 2010
Member Type
Retired English Teacher
Native Language
British English
Home Country
Czech Republic
Current Location
Czech Republic

CalvinLai

Member
Joined
Feb 21, 2013
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
Chinese
Home Country
Hong Kong
Current Location
Canada
Hey angelene001,

When you're talking about places like the restaurant, the park, the school, the playground, you can usually use either one.

Try to use "in" for names of countries...etc

For example:

"I left my guitar at my house in Holland."

Calvin
 

emsr2d2

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jul 28, 2009
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
British English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
UK
I've got a huge problem with the prepositions "at" and "in" when I talk about places such a restaurant, canteen, etc.

I eat lunches at my school canteen.
but
The staff in my school canteen is very friendly.

Correct?

As you can see, both can be appropriate. However, in your two specific examples, I would have used the opposite to the one you chose and I would have worded the sentences slightly differently:

I have lunch in the school canteen.
The canteen staff at my school are very friendly.
 

angelene001

Member
Joined
Mar 21, 2012
Member Type
Interested in Language
Native Language
Polish
Home Country
Poland
Current Location
Poland
I've always thought that there is a rule, which I don't understand, how to use "at" and "in" with restaurants, bars, cafes, etc.
So both "at" and "in" are correct.
The same with "to stay at a hotel" and "to stay in a hotel"?

What about "hospital"?
I spent 2 months at hospital.
or
I spent 2 moths in hospital.

The same rule here?
 

angelene001

Member
Joined
Mar 21, 2012
Member Type
Interested in Language
Native Language
Polish
Home Country
Poland
Current Location
Poland
As you can see, both can be appropriate. However, in your two specific examples, I would have used the opposite to the one you chose and I would have worded the sentences slightly differently:

I have lunch in the school canteen.
The canteen staff at my school are very friendly.

Can I say:
The canteen cooks are very friendly.
 

emsr2d2

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jul 28, 2009
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
British English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
UK
Can I say:
The canteen cooks are very friendly.

I find "the canteen cooks" very unnatural. Apart from anything else, the canteen staff will include people other than cooks.
 

Rover_KE

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jun 20, 2010
Member Type
Retired English Teacher
Native Language
English
Home Country
England
Current Location
England
I've always thought that there is a rule, which I don't understand, how to use "at" and "in" with restaurants, bars, cafes, etc.
So both "at" and "in" are correct.
The same with "to stay at a hotel" and "to stay in a hotel"? Yes.

What about "hospital"?
I spent 2 months at hospital.:cross:
or
I spent 2 months in hospital.:tick:

Rover
 

emsr2d2

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jul 28, 2009
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
British English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
UK
In AmE, I believe "I spent two months in the hospital".

I am going to make a rather far-fetched argument for using "at", in BrE at least. We generally say we are "at hospital" when we are there waiting to be admitted, or just there for a minor issue. "In hospital" suggests we have been admitted formally to the hospital and are actually taking up a hospital bed.

I was at [the] hospital for seven hours last night, after cutting my finger very badly.
I spent seven hours at the local hospital last night, after cutting my finger very badly.

The National Health Service is, for now, holding its own but it's just possible that one day things might slide to the point that I have to wait in the waiting room for two months before being seen. If that happens, then "I spent two months at the hospital before I was finally seen by a doctor!" As I said, it's very far-fetched but it might help you with the usage. The normal usage would be "I spent two months in hospital before the doctors decided I was well enough to be discharged".
 

angelene001

Member
Joined
Mar 21, 2012
Member Type
Interested in Language
Native Language
Polish
Home Country
Poland
Current Location
Poland
I find "the canteen cooks" very unnatural. Apart from anything else, the canteen staff will include people other than cooks.

Can we use a name of a place with 's and then put a person working there?
hospital's workers
canteen's staff

Or is it always:
cateen staff
plant worker
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top