In versus At Continued...

by Hani
(Yemen)

Thanks a lot Ola! You don't know how much confused I was. However, things started to be clear after your answer. I'm really grateful to you, thanks a million


Yet, there are things I'm still confused about such as that what should we say in the following situations:

In the office
or
At the office
//////////////////////////////////////////////////
In the hospital
or
At the hospital //////////////////////////////////////////////////
In the bank
or
At the bank
//////////////////////////////////////////////////
In the university
or
At the university
//////////////////////////////////////////////////
In the institute
or
At the institute
//////////////////////////////////////////////////
In the restaurant
or
At the restaurant
//////////////////////////////////////////////////
In the kitchen
or
At the kitchen
//////////////////////////////////////////////////
In the school
or
At the school
//////////////////////////////////////////////////
Finally , why we say "in my house " not at my house.
And "at home" not in my home.

Warm regards,
Hani

Comments for In versus At Continued...

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Jan 17, 2011
Answer
by: Ola Zur

Hi Hani,

I am happy to help :)

Let's try making this even more clear?

"In the office"
or
"At the office"

Well, it really depends on what you want to say.

"At the office" means the location is the office.

"In the office" means that something is inside of it.

So? let's say Jim got up in the morning and drove to his office.
How can you say he is there now?

If you simply want to point out that his location = the office, you can say:
"Jim is at the office."

If you want to emphasize that he is INSIDE his office, you can say:
"Jim is in his office."

Take a look at this dialogue:
Karen: Where is Jim? Is he home?
Jack: No, he is not home. He is at the office.
(= simply shows location)

And compare it to this one:
Karen: Where is Jim? I would like to speak with him.
Jack: Well, he's in his office. You can knock on his door.
(= he is inside)

Hani, try making some example sentences of your own until you get the hang of it. It can be very effective :)

Now let's quickly go over the entire list:

In these cases both are fine, depending on what you want to say:
In the hospital / At the hospital
In the bank / At the bank
In the university / at the university
In the institute / At the institute
In the restaurant / At the restaurant
In the kitchen / At the kitchen (though "in the kitchen" is probably more popular)
In the school / At the school / in school / at school

Finally, "in my house" or "at my house"?
You can use both! The same rule applies.

And "in my home" or "at home"?
"At home" is much more popular, but you can also say "in my home."

For example, compare this dialogue:
Karen: Where is Jim?
Jack: Jim's at home. Give him a call.

To this one:
Karen: Jim told me he doesn't know you?
Jack: What?! This guy is living in my home, in my room, and he says he doesn't know me? That's unreal?

So you see, it really depends on what you want to emphasize...

Ola Zur is the editor of www.really-learn-english.com, an illustrated guide to English.


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