IN or AT?

Wilson   Fri Jun 08, 2007 3:10 pm GMT
This may sound like a dumb question, but are there any clear-cut rules for the usage of in and at? For example, I would say --
I'm at the store / I'm at the park / I'm in the building / I live in town / etc. However, I hear quite a few people say things like I'm in the mall / I'm in the store /I'm in the park etc. This sounds wrong to me. I wonder if it's a matter of dialect...any ideas?
furrykef   Fri Jun 08, 2007 4:06 pm GMT
For the sentences with "at", I think either form is acceptable. However, it's possible to be "at the mall" without being "in the mall": if I were in the mall's parking lot, I would be "at the mall", but I wouldn't be "in the mall" until I'm physically inside the building.

On the other hand, one usually doesn't say "at the building", unless you specifically mean outside the building: "meet me at the abandoned building". I'm not really sure why.

- Kef
Travis   Fri Jun 08, 2007 4:11 pm GMT
Around here in Milwaukee, one can also use "by" most of these cases (and mind you that it means "at", and not the usual meaning of "by" in English), and any of "in", "at", and "by" can be preceded by "over" if one is to specify that the location is not close-by (which may vary in practice, and does not necessarily correspond to any particular physical distance).
Uriel   Sat Jun 09, 2007 2:31 am GMT
I think you can say either in or at and they sound fine.
Guest   Sat Jun 09, 2007 2:36 am GMT
I would usually say "around the building" for at the building site and "in the building" for inside the building.
Sarcastic Northwesterner   Sat Jun 09, 2007 9:18 pm GMT
>> I'm at the store / I'm at the park / <<

I would most likely use "I'm in the store" and "I'm in the park". At sounds a little exotic.
Skippy   Sat Jun 09, 2007 9:32 pm GMT
If something is outside, you typically wouldn't say "in" except in random circumstances...

Otherwise, especially if you're not a native speaker, either way is fine.
Guest   Sun Jun 10, 2007 10:32 am GMT
<Otherwise, especially if you're not a native speaker, either way is fine. >

i dont get your line of thinking, either way is fine????
Skippy   Sun Jun 10, 2007 5:01 pm GMT
Using either "in" or "at" in these situations is fine...
Dawie   Wed Jun 27, 2007 3:22 pm GMT
The difference between using "in" or "at" is subtle, but nevertheless very important if you want to sound like a native speaker of English.
Kess   Wed Jun 27, 2007 8:21 pm GMT
arrive at the station, but
arrive in Paris/Rio/NYC