In a meeting or at a meeting

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Oros

Senior Member
Korean
Where is he?

1. He is at a meeting.

2. He is in a meeting.

I would vote for the first sentence if he is really attending a meeting at the time of asking.

If he is having a coffe break/tea break at the time of asking, I would vote for the first sentence.

What is your opinion?

I would like to hear from you all.
 
  • Kelly B

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I would usually use #2, He is in a meeting, except perhaps if he is out of town or otherwise offsite. Then I might say he is at a meeting, in the same way I would say he is at (attending) a conference.
     

    swinginscot

    Senior Member
    English, UK/US
    Hi there,
    "He's in a meeting" is probably used a little more but I also hear people say "he's at a meeting." So either option wouldn't seem out of place. Just use whatever feels more comfortable.

    :)
     
    Agreed. When I was working in the confines of an office and a call came through from a person to whom my boss didn't wish to speak, the stock reply was, "I'm very sorry, Mr xxxxxxx is in a meeting. May I take your number and get him to call you back when he is free?"





    LRV
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    English
    In a meeting implies being on the same premises as the speaker.
    At a meeting implies being on a different premises than the speaker.
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    maxiogee said:
    In a meeting implies being on the same premises as the speaker.
    At a meeting implies being on a different premises than the speaker.
    Yes, well noticed :thumbsup: - I think this is true. "In a meeting" is by far the more common phrase. "At" adds the nuance that you have gone somewhere. In fact, the more I think about it the more I agree. You ask where your colleague John is and someone says "he's in a meeting with his boss" - fine. "he's at a meeting with his boss" - I would wonder oh "who are they with" eg "where have they gone together".
     

    GenJen54

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    In AE, we usually say "in a/the meeting." However, much depends on context.

    For example, if you are in the meeting space and are participating in the meeting, we use "in."

    In certain situations, you might use "at," but that indicates that perhaps the meeting is on break and you are outside of the actual meeting space.

    For example, let's say that I attend a conference for PR professionals and I call my husband.

    I might tell him: Hey honey, I'm at the conference.This means that I am at the venue where the conference is taking place. I am not, at this moment, actively participating in the conference.

    Lets further say that while attending the conference, I meet with several other PR practitioners. During this meeting, my husband calls me on my cell phone. I might answer it* and say: I can't talk right now. I'm in a meeting. In other words, I am actively participating in the proceedings.


    * I would never, unless I knew it was an emergency, answer my cell phone during a professional meeting. I almost always have it turned off.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    If I phone Bill and his secretary says he's in a meeting, I know Bill is on the premises. If she says he's at a meeting, I know he's at a meeting somewhere else.

    I don't take calls when I am at (or in:p ) a meeting. That would be extremely rude.
     

    emilita

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Hello to everyone, my questions are pretty basic :) Here we go...

    I´ve always thought you say ´at the meeting´ but now I got confused because I´ve just seen ´in the meeting´ - are both versions correct/interchangeable or there is actually a difference in the usage?

    Another thing, a lot of Spaniards tend to say (when they speak English): ´I must recognise that...´ which is a direct translation from Spanish. I always say ´I must admit that...´ and the version with ´recognise´ does sound strange to my ears. My dear native speakers, am I going crazy or you can actually say that???

    Thank you in advance for any help and have a nice day!
     

    Thomas F. O'Gara

    Senior Member
    English USA
    There is a difference in meaning, although it's difficult to pinpoint it, and they overlap. "At the meeting" is probably more idiomatic in more situations. To say "in the meeting" there has to be a sense of inside vs. outside, at least implied.

    "Mary's at the meeting." Maybe the meeting is in Denver and you're in New York.

    "Mary's in the meeting." You're more likely standing outside the meeting room.

    Note this also:

    "Mary's at a meeting." The same as "at the meeting", although now we're not talking about a specific meeting.

    "Mary's in a meeting." It implies that Mary is not to be disturbed, and in general "in" in these cases carries a sense of something more guarded. Compare:

    "At the meeting the new sales figures were discussed." The sales figures were on the agenda for the meeting.

    "In the sales meeting the new sales figures were discussed." Impies that word about this should not be spread around much.
     

    emilita

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Thank you sooo much! Wow, English will never stop surprising me although I have been learning it for a long time now. Can you please answer my second question I must recognise that ... ? Is it possible/does it sound fine to say ¨I must recognize¨ instead of ¨I must admit¨? I would be really, really grateful for any help as I keep hearing this sentence...
     

    JeffJo

    Senior Member
    USA
    USA, English
    Re: "What points came up at/in the meeting [?]"

    I believe the choice would be only personal preference, between 'at' and 'in'. I see no clear difference.
     

    Sallyb36

    Senior Member
    British UK
    Hello,

    My Spanish friend asked me whether I would say "in a meeting" or "at a meeting".

    I had to think about it, but said that I think the strictly correct way would be to say "at a meeting", but that I personally would say "in a meeting" if the meeting was in the same building as I am, but "at a meeting" if the person concerned had to go to meet someone elsewhere.

    Can anybody shed any light on this matter please? Is one way correct and the other not, is there any subtle difference?

    Thank you.
     

    Le Duy Hung

    New Member
    Vietnamese
    No. 2 is correct. This is because if someone is in a meeting, he attends a meeting. "in a meeting" is simply used to show the place where somebody or something is.
    However, "at a meeting" is different. It is used to emphasize an action or activity (sb does sth) during a meeting.
     

    sunyaer

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    ...

    In certain situations, you might use "at," but that indicates that perhaps the meeting is on break and you are outside of the actual meeting space.

    For example, let's say that I attend a conference for PR professionals and I call my husband.

    I might tell him: Hey honey, I'm at the conference.This means that I am at the venue where the conference is taking place. I am not, at this moment, actively participating in the conference.


    ...
    ...

    I don't take calls when I am at (or in:p ) a meeting. That would be extremely rude.
    It seems there might be a difference in whether or not you can make or take calls at a meeting, depending on personal usage, doesn't it?
     
    Last edited:

    EStjarn

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    It seems there might be a difference in whether or not you can make or take calls at a meeting, depending on personal usage, doesn't it?
    Is this a language question, sunyaer? If so, I don't think I understand it.
     

    sunyaer

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    It seems there might be a difference in whether or not you can make or take calls at a meeting, depending on personal usage, doesn't it?
    Is this a language question, sunyaer? If so, I don't think I understand it.
    Some people understand "at a meeting" as not necessarily in the middle of a meeting, as such they can make and take calls at a meeting in some contexts, other people, on the other hand, use "at a meeting" differently to mean the opposite. Is it a language question?
     

    EStjarn

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    I think I get what you mean: panjandrum seems to understand at a meeting as in the middle of an off-premises meeting, GenJen does not.

    Personally, I don't see their replies as contradictory. I suggest the discrepancy is due to a lack of common context.

    (i) It is reasonable to assume that panjandrum would take calls during meeting breaks. If so, his reply simply did not take the breaks into account.

    (ii) GenJen's reply seems to refer specifically to what she as an off-premises meeting participant would say if she got a call. Since she doesn't take calls while in a meeting, she would say at a meeting. The reply doesn't mention what a secretary might say regarding her whereabouts, which I'd understand would be at a meeting, meaning attending an off-premises meeting.
     

    Ivan_I

    Banned
    Russian
    If I phone Bill and his secretary says he's in a meeting, I know Bill is on the premises. If she says he's at a meeting, I know he's at a meeting somewhere else.

    I don't take calls when I am at (or in:p ) a meeting. That would be extremely rude.
    Well, does it mean that the secretary is in the meeting too?
     

    sagar grammar

    Senior Member
    Hello teachers....
    I have read this somewhere....

    In- is used when we show inclusion or involvement.
    At- is used for gatherings of people.
    (Gatherings = meeting, conference etc.)

    1- I was at the meeting. ( I was at the place where the meeting held)
    2- I was in the meeting. ( I was at the place where the meeting held and actively took part in it, discussing something or doing something.)

    I was at the meeting. ( present + not active)
    ( an emphasize on presence)

    I was in the meeting. ( present + active)
    ( an emphasize on activity)
     

    Singhania

    New Member
    Hindi
    Hello teachers....
    I have read this somewhere....

    In- is used when we show inclusion or involvement.
    At- is used for gatherings of people.
    (Gatherings = meeting, conference etc.)

    1- I was at the meeting. ( I was at the place where the meeting held)
    2- I was in the meeting. ( I was at the place where the meeting held and actively took part in it, discussing something or doing something.)

    I was at the meeting. ( present + not active)
    ( an emphasize on presence)

    I was in the meeting. ( present + active)
    ( an emphasize on activity)
    Bro your reply is awesome I was really confused. I read all the given post but none of the above post have clarify this confusion but you cleared my this confusion. Thank you a lot
     

    sinukg

    Senior Member
    Malayalam
    Pm
    Hello teachers....
    I have read this somewhere....

    In- is used when we show inclusion or involvement.
    At- is used for gatherings of people.
    (Gatherings = meeting, conference etc.)

    1- I was at the meeting. ( I was at the place where the meeting held)
    2- I was in the meeting. ( I was at the place where the meeting held and actively took part in it, discussing something or doing something.)

    I was at the meeting. ( present + not active)
    ( an emphasize on presence)

    I was in the meeting. ( present + active)
    ( an emphasize on activity)
    Fantastic.
     
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