Preposition: I live <at, in> Barcelona.

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Not Ordinary Girl, Feb 7, 2007.

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  1. Not Ordinary Girl New Member

    Saudi arabia
    Hello Forum

    How are you every one?

    which is correct I live in Barcelona or I live at Barcelona..??

    when we use ( at)..?

    :) :)
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 29, 2014
  2. Thomas1

    Thomas1 Senior Member

    polszczyzna warszawska
    Hello Not Ordinary Girl,

    It's in. :)

  3. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    American English, Palestinian Arabic
    "I live in Barcelona" is correct.

    "At" has hundreds of uses. This is not one of them.
  4. tuvir Senior Member

    for big cities and capitals we use the preposition IN for small towns and villages we use the preposition AT. I hope it helps
  5. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Perhaps you do, we don't. We always live in <placename>, however small.
  6. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    American English, Palestinian Arabic
    The choice of the preposition does not depend on the size of the city, village, or town, but on the context.

    You live in a city, village, or town.

    The verb live demands the preposition in when followed by the name of a city, village, or town. The size is irrelevant.
  7. tuvir Senior Member

    It is the rule that we study in our English books.

    In Madrid. at Los Barrios

    arrive in arrive at
  8. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    American English, Palestinian Arabic
    Assuming Los Barrios is a town or village, you would live in Los Barrios. I can't imagine a context in which the size of the place dictates which preposition to use.
  9. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    American English, Palestinian Arabic

    I arrived in Madrid.
    I arrived in Los Barrios.
    I arrived in [insert name of city/town/village].
  10. Thomas1

    Thomas1 Senior Member

    polszczyzna warszawska
    I remember I learnt a similar rule but I quickly forgot it. :D

    The only thing that occurs to me is:
    Tim arrived in Los Barrios.
    Tim arrived at the airport (in Los Barrios).
    Obviously, the airport is smaller than Los Barrios. Or would it be possible to use in in case of airport too?

  11. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    American English, Palestinian Arabic
    Tim arrived in the city/town/village.
    Tim arrived at the airport.

    It doesn't matter how big any of these places is.

    You arrive in the tiny hamlet with a population of two hundred, and you arrive at the enormous Heathrow Airport in London.
  12. Thomas1

    Thomas1 Senior Member

    polszczyzna warszawska
    That's true but I think the idea of this rule was to give the learners a general image of how to use the prepostions in question. Usually, an airport is smaller than an urban area (such as towns, cities, hamlets, etc.); I'd guess that you arrive at stations, airports, work, but arrive in towns, countries, villages, etc (buildings vs areas).

  13. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    American English, Palestinian Arabic
    That is correct, but the rule is misleading if it includes any "areas" in the "at" category.
  14. Thomas1

    Thomas1 Senior Member

    polszczyzna warszawska
    I’m just reading William Wilson by Poe, and the following excerpt reminded me of this thread:

    I guess at least one of the natives used at/in conversly to the standard norm. This is an example where the author employed both prepositions with names of cities. The at sounds strange to me.
    What do you, natives, think of it?
    Could someone please tell me the difference in implication, and connotations this usage causes?

    Thank you,
  15. se16teddy

    se16teddy Senior Member

    English - England
    I think that 'in' can be used with the name of any town, village, city or other community. In fact, I think it can be used of any place that is all around the person or thing that is 'in' it. 'In' means 'surrounded by'. You don't use 'in' with places that cannot surround you, such as places that are a point: for example you are 'at the foot of the stairs', not 'in the foot of the stairs'.

    As Elroy has mentioned, 'at' has many uses. The Oxford English Dictionary lists 40 and begins its article 'At is used to denote relations of so many kinds, and some of these so remote from its primary local sense, that a classification of its uses is very difficult. Only a general outline can be here given'.

    However, a couple of senses arise from the discussions above:
    - 'At' is used with places that are perceived not so much as a place on the earth's surface (or elsewhere), but are rather perceived as institutions. In the hospital = within the building; at the hospital = receiving or providing services. In the airport = within the building or the perimeter fence; at the airport = using the airport.
    - Thomas's quotation's 'at Rome' might fall into that category (Rome, Vienna etc being institutions, characters in European history, as well as places). Alternatively, the author might be seeing these places not as places that surround the traveller, but as points on the journey.
  16. Eigenfunction Senior Member

    England - English
    I would usually use in when referring to a town, as other have explained. However, I can think of one exception. If the town is a point on a journey, I might use either at or in:
    I drove from London to Bristol, stopping at Reading and Swindon along the way.
    In my mind, the logic behind the use of at in this case is that compared to the long journey, these two towns/cities are just small points.
  17. Caroline35 Senior Member

    Thank you Pajandrum for confirming what I already knew. Having lived more than half of my life in Australia, I consider myself a native of this beautiful country and when I read in my nice's English-Italian grammar the distinction in the usage of at and in based on the size of a place, I was amazed. The book says "I live at Windsor, but I live in London. To me it was something new that I've never heard before and I told my nice so.
  18. mbs-banned Banned

    Italian - Brit English (bilingual)
    1. The Queen, her family members, her staff (and so on), may say "I live at Windsor most of the time". And that's perfect English, since they are referring to 'Windsor Castle', which is a stunning royal residence. So, some people can live at Windsor. :)

    2. When they can both be used grammatically for 'places' (therefore: excluding cities, towns, villages, hamlets ;)....), "at" focuses on the 'function' of a place, whereas 'in" focuses on "physical position/location". Cfr.
    On the phone, mother and daughter: - "What are you doing now?" - "Nothing much, I'm at the station waiting for my train".
    A police inspector phoning his agents: - "So any news? Did you find him?" - "No, we are in the station now and we have been searching everywhere but ......."
    The same situations may apply to a hospital, a church, etc.
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2011
  19. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    Up until not long ago it was normal in English to say you were born at + city.
    There's a linguist I listen to often who recalls that when he was around 10 (only 35 years ago) people used to say "I was born at Philadelphia", something which has been replaced by in + city in more modern English.

    (Data provided by Google Timeline) (red = year the book it was published in)

    1874 - Shakspeare, a great English dramatist, was born at Strat- ford-on-Avon."(quoted in an 1874 grammar on English)
    1898 - John Bunyan, the most popular religious writer in the English language, was born at Elstow, about a mile from Bedford, in the year 1628
    1901 - MARLOWE, CHRISTOPHER, the father of English tragedy and the creator of English blank verse, was born at Canterbury in February 1564, and christened on the 26th of that month
    1905 - BOUGHTON, GEORGE H.. ; died at his studio at Campden Hill, London, England, on Jan. 19, 1905. He was born at Norwich.
    1907 - William Bathe was born at Dublin, April 2, 1564. His. father was John Bathe; his mother, Eleanor Preston. The name of Bathe had been for several generations prominent in the legal [..]

    There is a publication here called "Canada from afar" which contains a list of obituaries written in the 20th century which shows 34 uses of "born at" including:

    was born at Edmonton, Alberta
    was born at Valleyfield, Quebec
    was born at Nelson, British Columbia
    was born at Halifax (the one in England)

    This encyclopedia contains 87 uses of "born at + place" and was published in 1921, including "born at Paris" etc etc.

    Although it's a lot less common, it's still present in places today.
    About 40/50 years ago in some places it was the default preposition to use.

    2003 - Bruno Bernard Heim, was born at Olten, Switzerland, on March 5 1911, the son of a stationmaster (DailyTelegraph)
    - Reginald Hugh Hickling was born at Derby on August 2 1920, and educated at Buxton College (Daily Telegraph)
    2007 - Born at Ascot in Berskhire in December 1941, Morley was named after Sheridan Whiteside, [..] (The Times)
    2009 - His major works include Arms and the Man, Man and Superman, Major Barbara and Pygmalion. Born at Dublin, Ireland. Died at Ayot St. Lawrence, England, Nov 2, 1950 (Chase's Calendar of Events)

    So, surviving remnants of the very normal way of using this preposition are not to be judged as wrong, but rather archaic. I'd never heard that usage and I do find it strange, but I'm also aware that up until the last 50 years it in certain areas (also well before for a lot of other people) the preposition in was not the most common. Languages do change and although I think for most of us the only option is the preposition in. I think for some speakers of Standard English the variant preposition would also be acceptable, so I'd hesitate before calling it wrong.

    Note to learners of English: I'd suggest you always use in, as the 'at' choice, though historically correct, is very rare now and you'll have no problem ever using in.
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2011
  20. mbs-banned Banned

    Italian - Brit English (bilingual)
    = Yes I like this final note....and thank you for your interesting historical research.... but as a matter of fact any research on archaic English is highly likely to produce results that 'clash' with modern usage.

    Let's be careful...;) let's keep in mind users on this forum often turn to it because they are doing homework or preparing an official Esol exam...where using 'I live at Milan' instead of 'in Milan' entails being penalised (it's marked as a mistake).
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2011
  21. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    I don't care if it's highly likely (as that's not relevant here), I study the history of English and this is a matter of historical fact.

    I, as a qualified TEFL teacher (and also a +5 year WR user), am also perfectly aware of what needs to be told to students to help them pass their exams and what is to be considered standard English. This forum's scope, while highly inclusive of this aspect of English usage, is definitely not strictly limited to that topic and posts relating (to any aspect) of English have a place in this forum.

    I wanted to correct the notion that using "at" is 100% wrong, and always has been.
    On a pedagogical note, I couldn't let my post give away the idea this should be learned, so hence the final comment. It would have been irresponsible for me not to say that.
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2011
  22. edwardw

    edwardw Junior Member

    Judging from my opinion, "at" always follows a place or a site which is more concrete relatively.
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