in/at/on?

Lazarus

Member
Ukraine
What article should I use when I write a sentence like this:

He always cocks up everything when he plays in/at/on (??) official tournaments.

Please, help.

Thanks in advance.

/L
 
  • renegade angel

    Senior Member
    English, Australia
    the best way would be "when he plays in official tournaments"

    but what exactly are you saying by "cock up"???
     

    grego

    Member
    English / UK
    or

    He always cocks it up when he plays in/at official tournaments.

    in/at is equally appropriate.
     

    Toepicker

    Member
    English-England(Manchester)
    To cock something up= do something wrong, often spectacularly wrong!

    The President's handling of the war is a complete cock up!
    The wedding arrangements were cocked up because the caterers went bust!

    etc...
     

    A90Six

    Senior Member
    England - English.
    Lazarus said:
    What article should I use when I write a sentence like this:

    He always cocks up everything when he plays in/at/on (??) official tournaments.

    Please, help.

    Thanks in advance.

    /L
    Either in or at are acceptable, but it depends on the meaning you wish to convey.

    ...in official tounaments means that he is playing a part in the tournaments. He is a golfer who plays in golf tounaments. He is in the tournament.

    ...at official tournaments means that he is at the place where the tournament is being held. He may be a musician who plays for the crowd at tennis tournaments. He is at the tournament.
     

    grego

    Member
    English / UK
    A90Six said:
    Either in or at are acceptable, but it depends on the meaning you wish to convey.

    ...in official tounaments means that he is playing a part in the tournaments. He is a golfer who plays in golf tounaments. He is in the tournament.

    ...at official tournaments means that he is at the place where the tournament is being held. He may be a musician who plays for the crowd at tennis tournaments. He is at the tournament.
    disagree with this................in any sport/event, i would say at sounds equally correct for your definition of when in should be used. I would use either without thinking about it.
     

    A90Six

    Senior Member
    England - English.
    grego said:
    disagree with this................in any sport/event, i would say at sounds equally correct for your definition of when in should be used. I would use either without thinking about it.
    at expresses position or location.
    in expresses the position of a person or thing with regard to what encloses, surrounds or includes it, her, him, etc.

    In these sentences at and in are interchangeable, but the meaning changes:

    My car is at my house. (The car is by/next to/outside the house.)
    My car is in my house. (The car is inside my house.)

    Tiger Woods was at the tournament. (He may or may not have played. He may have been an observer, a commentator, etc.)
    Tiger Woods was in the tournament. (He played.)

    He kicked the ball at the goal. (Toward the goal - the outcome is not known.)
    He kicked the ball in the goal. (He scored.)

    The knife was at his side. (It was next to him.)
    The knife was in his side. (He had been stabbed.)



    At and in are not always interchangeable:

    The waiter was at the table. (He was by the table.):tick:
    The waiter was in the table. (Unlikely, unless the table was specially constructed with a cut-out area within its edges that allowed the waiter to get inside.):cross:

    The dog jumped at my face. (Toward my face.):tick:
    The dog jumped in my face. (Unlikely, unless the dog was small enough to enter one of the facial orifices.):cross:
     

    grego

    Member
    English / UK
    i agree with the rules but lazarus gave a specific example and in that example, i think in/at are equally changeable.

    Spain always cock everything up when they play at official tournaments.
    Spain always cock everything up when they play in official tournaments.


    There is no difference in meaning between these two sentences. Your Tiger Woods example doesn't fit as Lazarus' sentence already states "when he plays".
     

    Oros

    Senior Member
    Korean
    My dictionary says the words 'cock up' are informal. I was forced to look at a dictionary as I didn't know.

    When it is an informal word, I believe people could dispute about the correct preposition.
     

    Oros

    Senior Member
    Korean
    A90six wrote the following:

    The knife was at his side. (It was next to him.)
    The knife was in his side. (He had been stabbed.)
    ----------------------------------------------------

    The knife was in his side. -> If this sentence implies that he had been stabbed, I think there should be some context behind it.

    What I want to say is that if you just say the knife was in his side, it is hard to judge whether a case of stabbing is involved.
     

    Kelly B

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I prefer to play in tournaments. I think at tournaments is acceptable too, although I agree with A90Six that at is better for something other than playing/competing while there (I bought a hot dog at the tournament). You might be on the team, but not on the tournament.

    As a side note, I have not heard cock up used in this kind of context in the US. I'd use "mess up", "screw up", or "f**k up" in increasing order of vulgarity.

    Getting even further off the topic, the knife was in his side is not ambiguous to me, or at least the location of the knife is clear. This certainly involves bleeding, but I suppose you could wonder if he fell on it or otherwise inserted it himself.
     

    A90Six

    Senior Member
    England - English.
    Oros said:
    A90six wrote the following:

    The knife was at his side. (It was next to him.)
    The knife was in his side. (He had been stabbed.)
    ----------------------------------------------------

    The knife was in his side. -> If this sentence implies that he had been stabbed, I think there should be some context behind it.

    What I want to say is that if you just say the knife was in his side, it is hard to judge whether a case of stabbing is involved.
    OK, perhaps without anymore context, he may have fallen on the knife or the knife may have fallen from the heavens and stuck in him. someone may have thrown the knife, there may be endless possibilities. I wrote the sentence and I pictured him as being stabbed.

    All that aside, the sentence is only being used as an example to show the difference between in and at. However it got there, the knife is in his side, not at it.
     

    sjofre

    Senior Member
    Portuguese, Portugal
    in/at/on is always a problem to me. I always have great doubts about when to apply each of them. some of the answers where already a great tip on that, but I would be thankful if someone, a native english speaker, could explain where to use each of them: in/at/on...
     

    A90Six

    Senior Member
    England - English.
    grego said:
    i agree with the rules but lazarus gave a specific example and in that example, i think in/at are equally changeable.

    Spain always cock everything up when they play at official tournaments.
    Spain always cock everything up when they play in official tournaments.


    There is no difference in meaning between these two sentences. Your Tiger Woods example doesn't fit as Lazarus' sentence already states "when he plays".
    If you read through the posts you will see that I agreed that the words in this instance are interchangeable; no argument.

    Depending on which word is used the meaning changes. When he plays what? He could be playing a guitar in the band at the tounament, when the tournament itself may have nothing to do with music.

    If he plays in the tournament then he is playing whatever sport or otherwise that the tounament is being held for. If it's a golf tournament, he's playing golf. If it's a darts tournament, he's playing darts.

    If I had said Tiger Woods plays at the golf tournament, it doesn't tell you what he plays; poker, roulette, dice! You may assume it's golf but that would only be an assumption.

    If I said he plays in the golf tournament, then there is no assumption to be made. He is playing golf.
     

    A90Six

    Senior Member
    England - English.
    sjofre said:
    in/at/on is always a problem to me. I always have great doubts about when to apply each of them. some of the answers where already a great tip on that, but I would be thankful if someone, a native english speaker, could explain where to use each of them: in/at/on...
    The difficulty many people have is in understanding that the prepositions in, at and on are used for both time and place.
    These links may help:
    Time.
    Place.
     
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