In or At the train station

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TheShadow

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Hi,

Do you say: I will eat something at the train station or in the train station

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5jj

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Both are possible. 'At' is more likely, in my opinion.
 

BobK

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:up: ...and I regret the passing (but occasional survival) of the term 'railway station'.

b
 

Tdol

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Both are possible. 'At' is more likely, in my opinion.

I agree, but the bigger the commercial area, the greater the chance of in being used IMO- a branch station with a sandwich stall and a huge place offering four floors of restaurants may be treated differently.
 

sergeyrais

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Can being at the railway station be understood as being near it?

Cf: The teacher is at the chalkboard. = The teacher is near the chalkboard.
 
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emsr2d2

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Can being at the railway station be understood as being near it?

Cf: The teacher is at the chalkboard. = The teacher is near the chalkboard.

Not really, no. If a teacher were near a chalkboard, then that's what we would say. If the teacher is at the chalkboard, then I expect the teacher to be standing right in front of it, probably in the act of writing on it or pointing at words already written on it.

You're either at the railway station or you're not.
 

Tdol

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I agree- if someone is at the chalkboard, they're close enough to use it.

Also, on would require climbing and in would be physically impossible.
 

sergeyrais

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If the teacher is at the chalkboard, then I expect the teacher to be standing right in front of it, probably in the act of writing on it or pointing at words already written on it.

Should the preposition "at" be considered here as a preposition of place implying a certain adequate action, but not just a conventional preposition of place?
Thus, "standing at the train" means not just "standing near it", but suggests some actions (e.g. checking up the tickets or repairing the carriage etc.)
 

5jj

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Should the preposition "at" be considered here as a preposition of place implying a certain adequate action, but not just a conventional preposition of place?
No.

Thus, "standing at the train" means not just "standing near it", but suggests some actions (e.g. checking up the tickets or repairing the carriage etc.)
'Standing at the train' is an unlikely phrase.
 

emsr2d2

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If I were waiting for the train doors to open, I would say I was standing by the train. If the train hadn't pulled in yet, I would simply be standing on the platform, waiting for the train. Once the doors open and I get on, I'm standing on the train. This is one of those prepositions which, in some contexts, doesn't mean what you think it does. "On the train" does not mean standing on top of the train, it means you are inside the train.
 

sergeyrais

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'Standing at the train' is an unlikely phrase.

Still the question remains. What about such "likely" phrases as "to be at school, to be at the office, to be at home, etc.)? Does the preposition at implies not only just being inside but also being engaged in doing sth?
e.g.
He is at school therefore he is not only inside the building but is also having classes or is being engaged in some specific activity connected with his schooling.
 

emsr2d2

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Still the question remains. What about such "likely" phrases as "to be at school, to be at the office, to be at home, etc.)? Does the preposition at implies not only just being inside but also being engaged in doing sth?
e.g.
He is at school therefore he is not only inside the building but is also having classes or is being engaged in some specific activity connected with his schooling.

Yes, there are some where adding or omitting the article makes a difference. In BrE:

He is at school = He is engaged in educational activities somewhere on the grounds of the school he attends.
He is at the school = He is probably inside the building but we don't know what "he" is doing. He might be a teacher, a pupil, a builder, a visitor, a school inspector ...

He is at work = He is at his place of occupation doing whatever it is he is paid to do.
He is at the office = He is probably working, but this could simply mean he has popped into his office at 10pm to collect a jacket he left behind earlier

He is at home = He is in his own place of residence. It tells nothing else.
He is at his parents' home = He is at the house owned by his parents. If the family are together then his parents are at home, and he is at their home.
 

Tdol

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Should the preposition "at" be considered here as a preposition of place implying a certain adequate action, but not just a conventional preposition of place?
Thus, "standing at the train" means not just "standing near it", but suggests some actions (e.g. checking up the tickets or repairing the carriage etc.)

Standing at the chalkboard has a ready association with the activity/activities, but you can't extend that to a train. Also, it doesn't mean that they're definitely writing or pointing, but that they're almost certainly in a position to do so and are there to do that.
 

BobK

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Yes, there are some where adding or omitting the article makes a difference. In BrE:

He is at school = He is engaged in educational activities somewhere on the grounds of the school he attends.
He is at the school = He is probably inside the building but we don't know what "he" is doing. He might be a teacher, a pupil, a builder, a visitor, a school inspector ...

He is at work = He is at his place of occupation doing whatever it is he is paid to do.
He is at the office = He is probably working, but this could simply mean he has popped into his office at 10pm to collect a jacket he left behind earlier

He is at home = He is in his own place of residence. It tells nothing else.
He is at his parents' home = He is at the house owned by his parents. If the family are together then his parents are at home, and he is at their home.
:up:
The question 'Should the preposition "at" be considered here as a preposition of place implying a certain adequate action' made me think of the - only tangentially relevant - euphemism (avoiding mention of money) 'I'm in the chair', which - in the right comtext (a pub, and a group of people) - means 'I shall buy drinks for everyone'.

b
 

sergeyrais

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Yes, there are some where adding or omitting the article makes a difference. In BrE:

He is at school = He is engaged in educational activities somewhere on the grounds of the school he attends.
He is at the school = He is probably inside the building but we don't know what "he" is doing. He might be a teacher, a pupil, a builder, a visitor, a school inspector ...

He is at work = He is at his place of occupation doing whatever it is he is paid to do.
He is at the office = He is probably working, but this could simply mean he has popped into his office at 10pm to collect a jacket he left behind earlier

He is at home = He is in his own place of residence. It tells nothing else.
He is at his parents' home = He is at the house owned by his parents. If the family are together then his parents are at home, and he is at their home.

I think the fact that the word "at" may be used as a preposition indicating the place in or near which sth or sb is, was or will be, and the fact that the same word may also be used as particle with the verb "to be" in the phrasal idiom "to be at" meaning "to be busy with sth" or "to be doing sth", make the phrases with "at" rather ambiguous.
Thus, for instance, when the doer is in his office, it's not quite clear (for me) whether the sentence just states the place where the doer is or whether it represents the doer being busy with his office duties.
 

BobK

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I don't think you need to think this to death. Do you really need to distinguish a preposition from a particle - (and if you think you do perhaps it would be fruitful to question that belief)? If one word does one thing, and in 'he is at the station' the at is a preposition while in 'he is at billiards' (a rather archaic usage, incidentally) it is a particle (a word that seeems to me to mean something like 'a short word that I'm not sure how to classify', then where on the preposition/particle continuum do these ats sit?
  • He is at large (where 'large' isn't an occupation)
  • They are at odds/loggerheads/daggers drawn... (choose your degree of conflict)
  • I think he's at last coming to the point
  • etc etc

(And that question was rhetorical. :) I don't think pinning down one words to one function achieves any more than my grandfather did when he pinned down the butterflies in his collection.)

When a person is in his office he may be making paper aeroplanes or browsing child porn while he's supposed to be 'at work'. It's not the language that tells us.

b
 
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