At/in/to the swimming pool (a location)

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wolfbm1

Senior Member
Polish
I can understand that at is a location or a point, while in is inside that location. We also use to when we want to express a movement towards a location.
I wonder if there is any difference between these pairs of sentences ( Source: Elementary Total English Workbook by Mark Foley and Diane Hall, p. 18 “Correct the mistakes with the verbs. … 3. We swimming at the swimming pool. ___________________ “

1.We swim at the swimming pool.
2.We go swimming at the swimming pool.

The sentences above are correct. I wonder what would happen if I replaced the preposition at with the preposition in.

3.We swim in the swimming pool.
4.We go swimming in the swimming pool.

Would there be any significant change in meaning? Could it mean that one wants to stress that the activity takes place inside the pool rather than inside and around it? But one cannot swim around a swimming pool. So the preposition at can only mean inside the pool in this case anyway. Am I right?

I think that one could also say:
5.We usually go swimming to the swimming pool and sometimes to the canal. And then the movement toward the location is stressed rather than just the location itself. Am I right?

I also wonder if there is any difference between:
6. We are swimming at the swimming pool?
7. We are swimming in the swimming pool?
I think that when one is doing the activity one has to use the preposition in rather than the general at. Am I right?

In summary:

Are sentences 1,2,3,4 basically interchangeable?
Is sentence 5 OK?
Are sentences 6 and 7 basically interchangeable?
 
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  • Franco-filly

    Senior Member
    English - Southern England
    1. We swim at the pool (building location – as opposed to at the seaside, etc) implies that you would swim in the pool (water)

    2. We go swimming in the pool is possible but, as you say, if you’re at the pool it its obvious that you would swim in the pool water!

    3 & 4. As you state, would be implied from 1.

    5. “We go swimming to the pool” sounds as though you swim there -how? along the flooded gutters?? :D You would need to say “we go to the pool to swim or to the canal”

    I would avoid using swimming in unless there are two separate pools/bodies of water and you wish to emphasise which you swam in. e.g. The pool was so crowded we went swimming in the diving pool.
     

    wolfbm1

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Thank you Franco-filly. I understand that it is best to use the preposition at with swimming pools.
    And thank you for correcting sentence #5. So it should be:
    We usually go to the (swimming) pool to swim/for a swim, sometimes to the canal (and once a year to the seaside).
     

    ribran

    Senior Member
    English - American
    At makes me think of a municipal swimming pool.
    I swim at the municipal pool every morning.

    In makes me think of a swimming pool in a backyard.
    I love to go swimming in my friend's swimming pool. :tick:
    I love to go swimming at my friend's swimming pool. :cross:
     

    wolfbm1

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Thank you ribran for your examples. I understand that a municipal swimming pool is more of a public location (place) than your friend's swimming pool in his backyard and that is why the preposition at is more suitable there.
     
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    ribran

    Senior Member
    English - American
    Thank you ribran for your examples. I understand that a municipal swimming pool is more of a public location (place) than your friend's swimming pool in his backyard and that is why the preposition at is more suitable there.
    That is exactly right. :)
     

    Michael_Goldman

    Member
    Chinese
    Dear friends,

    We have a municipal swimming pool here.

    Are these questions to the manager, regarding the prepositions IN and AT, correct?

    1. Do you offer instructor’s help at your swimming pool?
    2. Is there a sauna at the swimming pool?

    Thanks.
     

    Michael_Goldman

    Member
    Chinese
    Yes 'at' is correct here because you mean 'at that location' (you are not talking about being 'in' the water at the swimming pool).
    Well, there is still some confusion about using at/in prepositions with buildings.

    For instance, when we talk about the cinema, we usually do not imply the cinema hall itself, however, it goes without saying that everything we talk about the cinema automatically implies that all will happen in the hall. So, we say: "At that time we were in the cinema." (simultaneously means watching a film and being inside the building called the cinema)

    Just like when we talk about a municipal swimming pool whose building has a signboard with an inscription of "SWIMMING POOL" on the front wall, we do not imply the water reservoir itself however, it goes without saying that everything we talk about the swimming pool automatically implies that all will happen in the water reservoir. So, we say: "At that time we were in the swimming pool." (simultaneously means swimming in the water and being inside the building named "SWIMMING POOL")

    Well, the sauna is IN (= INside) the building, instructors are also IN it.

    Why would the questions sound like "Is there a sauna AT the swimming pool?" instead of "Is there a sauna IN the swimming pool (= IN the building of the swimming pool)?", as in this case we obviously imply the building itself without even the slightest notion of the water reservoir, and "Do you offer instructor’s help at your swimming pool?" instead of "Do you offer instructor’s help IN your swimming pool (= IN your building of the pool)?"?

    Please help out.

    Many thanks.
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    in this case we obviously imply the building itself
    We can say the sauna is at the swimming pool even if it is an outdoor swimming pool with no building at all. We can say Peter is at Parliament even if Parliament is meeting in a field this week, instead of at its normal premises. At focuses on the function of the institution, not its premises. I can even imagine a mobile inflatable swimming pool which moves from one village to the next, so you can be at the swimming pool in Shipton one week and Shopton the week after.
     
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    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Also, a swimming pool is not a building. In a direct sense it's a container full of water and in the location sense it's a facility - i.e. a place that offers certain services. You can be at the facility and not be in anything.

    20200628_194515.jpg


    The people on the left are in the swimming pool (container of water). The people on the right getting a tan are at the swimming pool (the facility) but are not in the swimming pool.

    You could be in the dressing room. That's a small building you could be in when you are at the swimming pool (facility).

    A building that is built to house a swimming pool inside is sometimes called a natatorium. You could be at the natatorium in the pool. Or at the natatorium but not in the pool.

    Natatorium - Wikipedia
     
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    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Compare home. We don't tell people we are in our home. We tell people we are at home. We might be more specific by saying we are at home in our living room.
     

    Michael_Goldman

    Member
    Chinese
    Also, a swimming pool is not a building. In a direct sense it's a container full of water and in the location sense it's a facility - i.e. a place that offers certain services. You can be at the facility and not be in anything.

    View attachment 43510

    The people on the left are in the swimming pool (container of water). The people on the right getting a tan are at the swimming pool (the facility) but are not in the swimming pool.

    You could be in the dressing room. That's a small building you could be in when you are at the swimming pool (facility).

    A building that is built to house a swimming pool inside is sometimes called a natatorium. You could be at the natatorium in the pool. Or at the natatorium but not in the pool.

    Natatorium - Wikipedia
    If we changed "swimming pool" to "school", would the question be "Is there a sauna in your school?" or "... at your school?"?
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    It could be either. It depends on what the emphasis was - on the place as a location providing services or on the place as a building.

    Is there a football field at your school? :thumbsup:
    Is there a football field in your school? :thumbsdown:
     
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    Michael_Goldman

    Member
    Chinese
    It could be either. It depends on what the emphasis was - on the place as a location providing services or on the place as a building.

    Is there a football field at your school? :thumbsup:
    Is there a football field in your school? :thumbsdown:
    Let's imagine we have got a ballet school.

    Would you ask "What schedule do you have in your school?" or "... at your school?"?

    Thanks.
     

    Michael_Goldman

    Member
    Chinese
    As I have got after the discussion, we use:

    AT to refer to the building and its environs.
    IN to refer to what is inside the building.

    Am I right?

    Kindly check these ones out. Thanks.

    Can I buy any food in the shopping centre? (I used IN as supermarkets are always inside shopping centres)
    Is there a food court in the mall? (I used IN as food courts are also always inside malls)
     
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    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    You could use either.

    Is there food for sale at the shopping center?
    Is there a store that sells food in the shopping center?

    The food court is a service provided at the mall and it is located inside the mall building.
     

    Michael_Goldman

    Member
    Chinese
    You could use either.

    Is there food for sale at the shopping center?
    Is there a store that sells food in the shopping center?

    The food court is a service provided at the mall and it is located inside the mall building.
    I think I got the grammatical point.

    We use AT before buildings when there is an activity going on inside it, like living, staying, buying, playing, films showing, theatrecal productions performed, being inside somebody's house and so on:
    I was at Frankie's house.
    I am buying some stuff at the supermarket.
    He is at the hotel now.
    Let us stay at the hotel next time.
    They play volleyball at the city sports centre.
    The movie is showing at the movie theatre.
    See you at the theatre.
    I was at the meeting.
    Mom is at the school now. I am grounded again.
    Etc.

    We use IN before buildings when there is something physical or special circumstances inside it, like cold, warm, stuffy, three rooms, one person and so forth:
    There is one guy in the classroom.
    It is too stuffy in this room.
    There are fifty twin-bedded rooms in the hotel.
    Etc.

    Am I correct?

    According to the above my logic, let me consider your example: "Is there a football field at your school?". A football field is in most cases located outdoors, so using IN is not appropriate in this example. However, a sauna can be indoors, and if I want to emphasize that it is indoors, can I intentionally ask "Is there a sauna in your school?" or not?

    Talking about the swimming pool. Since the word understood as a container of water first, so to avoid misinterpritation it is always better to use AT before it even when we think of a swimming pool as a municipal building and of a sauna as a physical object inside it (Is there a sauna at your swimming pool?), isn't it?

    Thank you so much for your help.
     
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    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    Yes, those are correct except that as a speaker of British English I query "Mom is at the school now." Do you mean she is a student there or is she just visiting for some reason.
    If she's a student, she's 'at school' and of course somewhere inside it. If she's visiting or standing outside, she's 'at the school' in BE.
     

    Michael_Goldman

    Member
    Chinese
    Yes, those are correct except that as a speaker of British English I query "Mom is at the school now." Do you mean she is a student there or is she just visiting for some reason.
    If she's a student, she's 'at school' and of course somewhere inside it. If she's visiting or standing outside, she's 'at the school' in BE.
    Mom is visiting (the school).

    Please check out the above post again as I revised it a bit, but you were first to answer the prior version. Thank you.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Yes, those all sound like natural choices.

    But there is another one that might be even more common that hasn't been mentioned yet in questions like this:

    Is there a football field at your school?
    Is there a gym at/in your school?
    Is there an auditorium at/in your school?
    Is there a food court at/in the mall?

    That is:
    Does your school have a football field?
    Does your school have a gym?
    Does your school have an auditorium?
    Does the mall have a food court?
     

    Michael_Goldman

    Member
    Chinese
    Yes, those all sound like natural choices.

    But there is another one that might be even more common that hasn't been mentioned yet in questions like this:

    Is there a football field at your school?
    Is there a gym at/in your school?
    Is there an auditorium at/in your school?
    Is there a food court at/in the mall?

    That is:
    Does your school have a football field?
    Does your school have a gym?
    Does your school have an auditorium?
    Does the mall have a food court?

    Just to verify the core question.

    #1: Talking about the swimming pool. Since the word understood as a container of water first, so to avoid misinterpritation it is always better to use AT before it, even when we think of a swimming pool as a municipal building and of a sauna as a physical object inside it (Is there a sauna at your swimming pool?), isn't it?

    #2: Can I restate the way "Does your swimming pool have a sauna?" and keep the meaning as in "Is there a sauna at your swimming pool?"?

    Thanks.
     
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