I'm in/at a meeting

Discussie in 'Spanish-English Grammar / Gramática Español-Inglés' gestart door Seikun, 30 aug 2009.

  1. Seikun

    Seikun Senior Member

    Chile - Castellano
    Is it correct to say "I'm in a meeting"?

    This doubt came to me after a friend of mine who is learning English wrote this sentence and she told me her teacher said it was correct. If so, what is the difference between using in and at in this case?

    Thanks in advance.
  2. Tarpaulin New Member

    Both are correct; I'm a native speaker and I don't feel there's a difference between the two.
  3. Seikun

    Seikun Senior Member

    Chile - Castellano
    When I learnt English all the examples about meetings being held had the preposition at as far as I can remember, that's why I had to ask.
  4. Peterrobertini7 Banned

    cuban spanish

    AT if you see the meeting as a point or usage of the room for that purpose
    IN if you stress your position inside.

    I'm not a native but that's what I have read.

  5. unspecified

    unspecified Senior Member

    Boston, MA, USA
    English, USA
    I agree with Tarpaulin; in that case, they're both correct and the difference in meaning is only subtle.

    Saying "I was at a meeting" may suggest that you were only physically there, while "I was in a meeting" suggests you actually took part in the meeting. That being said, it's a pretty fine distinction.

    For example, if I were really annoyed that I had to go to some meeting, I would definitely say "I was at some stupid meeting all day and it was such a waste of time" and not "I was in some stupid meeting..."

    I hope this helps!
  6. la_machy

    la_machy Senior Member

    Hermosillo, Sonora, México.
    Español de Sonora
    I agree with this, but I have to say that de difference in meaning is important to get the real nuance of the sentence. I mean, there is an important difference since we couldn't interchange ''in'' for ''at'' and convey the same idea.

    Am I right?:)

  7. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    Both "I'm in a meeting" and "I'm at a meeting" are fine, but their meanings depend on context. There is always a difference in meaning, and sometimes the difference is large and important.

    Does attending the meeting involve travel? Are you referring to place, time, or being involved/busy?
  8. Tarpaulin New Member

    I think this is one of the few instances where they are interchangeable because the idea of being in the meeting or at the meeting are interchangeable. If you're talking about a concert, for example, in and at are not interchangeable because "in" implies that you are one of the musicians at the concert, while "at" implies that you are attending the concert as a listener.

    Hope this helps!
  9. la_machy

    la_machy Senior Member

    Hermosillo, Sonora, México.
    Español de Sonora
    And what about if I am not a participating of the meeting but just the one who is serving the coffee. Am I ''in'' or ''at' the meeting?

    Laatst bewerkt: 30 aug 2009
  10. Tarpaulin New Member

    I think in this case it would be "I am serving coffee at the meeting" because, as others have noted, the key difference between "in" and "at" is whether or not one is an integral part of the meeting. Someone serving coffee is probably not contributing to the subject of the meeting and therefore would not be "in" it.

    But, "I am serving coffee in the meeting" also is acceptable--it's just that "I am serving coffee at the meeting" sounds better (at least, that's what I'd say.)
  11. la_machy

    la_machy Senior Member

    Hermosillo, Sonora, México.
    Español de Sonora
    That's my point about the right use of both preposition.
    As Forero pointed out, the context has very much to do with the meaning.
    Anyway, I got the meaning and the nuance between them, now.

    Tkank you for your replies.

  12. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    Some churches are called meetings, and these meetings can belong to larger meetings. And the places and times these meetings meet are all called meetings too.

    But I assume the question refers to some sort of business meeting.

    If I am out of town attending a meeting, I might say on the telephone: "I will pick up the papers when I am back in town; I'm at a meeting now." This is because this "meeting" is a location, a point on a map.

    On the other hand, if I am participating in a conference call (a telephonic meeting), I might say to someone waiting at the door: "I am in a meeting now. I'll get back with you later." This is because this "meeting" is part of a schedule. Even someone not actively participating in this meeting but required to be on the line or in the room during the meeting might say "I am in a meeting now" for this kind of meeting (referring to a time rather than a place).

    And if people have divided into subcommittees in different parts of a large room, being "in a meeting" might mean belonging to a particular subcommittee. I may even find myself in more than one such meeting if I have responsibilities to more than one subcommittee. I might say: "I am at this meeting now (place), but I am in the other meeting (participation/responsibility) too."

    This last situation is probably far-fetched (rebuscada), but without context, we are just guessing at what the difference is.
  13. Seikun

    Seikun Senior Member

    Chile - Castellano
    I now understand the difference between in and at in this case. There is not context to the sentence it was just a sentence.

    Thanka everybody for helping me with this!
  14. elianecanspeak

    elianecanspeak Senior Member

    by Lake Michigan
    English - EEUU
    Following up on Forero's excellent distinction between location and participation,"in a meeting" can also be used with the sense of "I'm in the middle of a meeting", signifying that I am involved in a meeting, and therefore cannot take a phone call, etc.
  15. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    How about "in meetings"? Is that common ?
  16. xgll004 Senior Member

    hello Forero
    I think your answer is very useful. I‘d like to expand the question to followings:
    1 "cover this topic in the meeting" or "cover this topic on the meeting" ?

    2 "cover this topic in the agenda" or "cover this topic on the agenda"?

    thanks in advance!


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