in the school/at school?

Carol89

Senior Member
Portuguese - Brazil
What's the difference between in the school and at school?

There're Americans in the school.
I'm at school.
 
  • curlyboy20

    Senior Member
    Peruvian Spanish.
    When someone is physically at a school taking a class you say, "he's at school". And when someone is regularly going to school, you say that such person is "in school".
     

    ignisvandevol

    Senior Member
    Portugal Portuguese
    em termos de fala, os dois são correctos, depende apenas da maneira que queres falar, in the school é uma coisa mais definitiva espacialmente. "Onde estás?" "Estou in the school"l, enquanto "at school" é aceitável dizer sobre o tempo que estás na escola "Ontem quando estava na escola (at school) aconteceu isto."
     

    Ariel Knightly

    Senior Member
    Brazilian Portuguese
    Eu sempre entendi essa questão da tradução de na escola do mesmo jeito que o Curlyboy. At traduziria a ideia de localização e in de situação. Mas será que o assunto se encerra aí? Gostaria de saber o que vocês pensam sobre o uso de at e in nesses exemplos que encontrei sem contexto aqui*.

    1) She didn't do very well at school.
    2) Their son's at the school near the station.
    3) Are the children still in school?
    4) the cleverest child in the school

    Seria possível trocar at por in em 1? Isso implicaria alguma mudança de sentido? E quanto a trocar in por at em 4? Qual seriam os sentidos de 2 e 3, localização ou situação? O que vocês acham?

    *Esse site me parece uma espécie de cópia do Oxford Collocations Dictionary, de modo que pode ser bastante útil para aqueles que não possuem esse dicionário.
     
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    Istriano

    Senior Member
    Croatian
    In se usa com in high school (colégio), in grammar school (ginásio), in law school (faculdade de direito), in medical school (faculdade de medicina)...


    In law school you don't just sit and take notes; you are expected to participate.
     

    kirakuni8

    Senior Member
    English - North American
    Ariel's 4 sentences sound perfect, but I think I would say "smartest" and not "cleverest", although both are perfectly acceptable.
    Note that you can also say "to not do well IN school"
     

    Ariel Knightly

    Senior Member
    Brazilian Portuguese
    Ariel's 4 sentences sound perfect, but I think I would say "smartest" and not "cleverest", although both are perfectly acceptable.
    Note that you can also say "to not do well IN school"
    Thank you, Kirakuni. Those sentences were taken from a dictionary, you know. But, in terms of meaning, what differences do you see between at and in in those examples? Do you know why at is used in 1 and 2 and in in 3 and 4?
     

    kirakuni8

    Senior Member
    English - North American
    To be honest, I can't think of any reason why we use at in some sentences and in in others.
    If even a native speaker isn't sure why, it's best to memorize a couple of examples (like the ones you provided) and to pay close attention to the prepositions used in the books you read. If you are surprised when you come accross a sentence that uses in instead of at, or at instead of in, make a mental note of the sentence or better yet, write it down and review all of the particularly interesting grammatical structures from time to time. Soon enough, you'll develop a native English speaker's intuition and you won't need to think of grammar rules (but in this case, I don't think there is a grammar rule).
    If you guys have any specific questions (for example, if you have a sentence but you are not sure if you should use in or at), feel free to send me a message or reply to this thread.
     

    kirakuni8

    Senior Member
    English - North American
    I have some more sample sentences (I made them myself :))

    1) There are over 500 students at this school.
    2) He never paid attention in school/at school.
    3) I work at this school. (in this school is okay too, but I would say at this school)
     

    kirakuni8

    Senior Member
    English - North American
    Thank you, Kirakuri. I'll do what you said. :)
    There must be a rule; there always is, even when we're still not aware of it.
    I'm not sure, because with French, there are many situations where there is no rule.
    You could be right though, because native English-speakers don't usually study English grammar.
     

    Ariel Knightly

    Senior Member
    Brazilian Portuguese
    What do you think of this contrast? Does it make sense?

    "I never paid attention."
    "When?"
    "In school."

    "I never paid attention."
    "Where?"
    "At school."

    "Are the children still in school?"
    "No, they have all finished school."

    "Are the children still at school?"
    "No, they're at the park."

    As for the school, could you say that in and at are interchangeable whenever a determiner - such as an article or a possessive - precedes school?

    I work in/at this school.
    How do I ask someone in/at my school for weed?

    Is this correct? What do you think?
     

    Ariel Knightly

    Senior Member
    Brazilian Portuguese
    As regras podem ser complexas e às vezes bem menos abrangentes do que gostaríamos; mas ainda assim existem, por mais que não tenhamos consciência delas. Sem as regras, temos apenas um glossário, e não uma língua. Ou vocês acham mesmo que os nativos memorizam uma preposição para cada realização concreta de school? Uma vez que seria impossível fazer uma lista de todas as frases da língua - porque as possibilidades são obviamente infinitas -, fica claro que o que governa a escolha entre at e in diante de school é alguma regra que, por enquanto, ainda não sei explicar. E ela é aplicada intuitivamente pelos falantes nativos, tendo eles consciência dela ou não. O que eu estou tentando fazer aqui é entender essa regra, de modo que nós, não nativos, consigamos utilizar adequadamente essas construções.
     

    Nonstar

    Senior Member
    Pajubá/dialetos das quebrada
    Mas assim está um tanto utópico, e matemático, Ariel. Se nem a moça soube te dizer... Se nem as "regras" que puseram ali em cima foram suficientes, só Deus é que sabe.
     

    Ariel Knightly

    Senior Member
    Brazilian Portuguese
    Certamente outras pessoas além de Deus devem saber também. Minha esperança é que alguma apareça logo para acabar com a minha angústia... :eek:. Sabe, acho normal um nativo não entender o funcionamento de sua própria língua; afinal, ele a adquire naturalmente, sem precisar aprendê-la, como fazem os não nativos. O fato de ele saber utilizar a língua não significa que o nativo saiba necessariamente muita coisa sobre ela.
     
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    Nonstar

    Senior Member
    Pajubá/dialetos das quebrada
    Será que não é um caso para o English forum? :)
    (Esse smiley parece um drogado, não gosto muito dele, muito cínico)
     

    Istriano

    Senior Member
    Croatian
    From the Merriam Webster's Learner's Dictionary:

    He learned to play the flute at/in school.(school = escola)
    She is away at school. (school = colégiou ou faculdade)

    be in school (ainda ser estudante):
    (US) My parents won't let me get a job while I'm in school. = (Brit) My parents won't let me get a job while I'm at school. [=while I am a student in a school] ▪ Stay in school and get your diploma. ▪ He never did well in school.
    http://www.learnersdictionary.com/search/school



    high school:

    he's in high school. = She goes to high school. = She attends high school. ▪ He graduated from Manchester High School.

    http://www.learnersdictionary.com/search/high school

    be at school
    = estar na escola, no colégio, faculdade (como edifícios)
    be in school = estudar/frequentar/cursar

    She's still at school. She hasn't come home.
    She's still in school. Her parents help her financially.

    :)
     
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    Ariel Knightly

    Senior Member
    Brazilian Portuguese
    Istriano, what do you think about the 4 examples I left in my post (#5)? Why do you think in can be used in the place of at in 1? Is the boy at school right now in 2? Why in the school in 4? Are in and at interchangeable when a determiner precedes school? Do you agree with what I wrote in #13?
     

    Istriano

    Senior Member
    Croatian
    1) She didn't do very well at school. Uso britânico que está saindo de moda: Veja aqui:
    http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=do+well+in+school,do+well+at+school&year_start=1800&year_end=2000&corpus=5&smoothing=3
    (Compare US English e UK English)
    2) Their son's at the school near the station. At + edifício [the = para especificar: at+ the school near the station]
    3) Are the children still in school? Eu interpreto como: ainda estão frequentando...
    4) the cleverest child in the school In+ instituição (in the school = nesta/nessa escola).
     
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    Istriano

    Senior Member
    Croatian
    1) There are over 500 students at this school. AT = specific institution
    2) He never paid attention in school/at school. *
    3) I work at this school. (in this school is okay too, but I would say at this school) AT = especific institution

    *
    É como
    He learned to play the flute at/in school
    http://www.learnersdictionary.com/search/school

    He's at school. location/building (está na escola)
    He's in school. institution (está frequentando)
    He's at this school. specified institution (+sometimes specific location including outer parts of the school, like playgrounds)
    He's in this school. specified location/building. (=in this school building, excluding outer parts of the school, like playgrounds) :)


    You can always force this usage in physical contexts: in this/the school = in this/the school building
    (At the school includes in the school :))

    He's at high school. building (está no colégio) mas normalmente se diria simplesmente: at school
    He's in high school. institution (está frequentando)
    He's away at high school. specified institution (frequentando um colégio fora da sua cidade)

    He's at medical school. building (está na faculdade de medicina, no edifício), uso raro
    He's in medical school. institution (cursando)
    He's at the Harvard medical school specified institution


    Veja aqui
    he's in high school, he's in the high school, he's at the high school, he's at high school :D
    Houve uma neutralização, e hoje em dia se prefere IN HIGH SCHOOL:
    (but people would use: He's still at school, he hasn't arrived home even if he is at high school, you don't normally specify it: he's at high school)

    in high school / law school / medical school (general) ~ at the best high school, at the Harvard law/medical school (specified)

    http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=at+high+school%2C+at+the+high+school%2C+in+high+school%2C+in+the+high+school&year_start=1800&year_end=2000&corpus=5&smoothing=3




     
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    Ariel Knightly

    Senior Member
    Brazilian Portuguese
    But he said "in this school is okay too" in 3. Why isn't it also okay in 1? Why have I found so many hits for both "in my school" and "at my school" on Google?
    How do i ask someone in my school for weed?
    how should i approach someone in my school,...
    (Here)
     

    Istriano

    Senior Member
    Croatian
    My é uma especificação.
    Segundo a minha lista (casos 3 e 4)

    1. He's at school. location/building
    2. He's in school. institution
    3. He's at this/the/our school. specified institution (+sometimes specific location including outer parts of the school, like playgrounds)
    4. He's in this/the/our school. specified location/building (=in this school building)
    1) Primeira interpretação:

    In my school = físico (edifício)
    At my school = não físico (instituição)


    2) Segunda interpretação:

    In my school = in the school building of my school (excluding outer parts like playgrounds)
    At my school = including even the outer parts like playgrounds

    Por isso normalmente não se diz

    ''In my school we play...'' [49 ocorrências no Google (a maioria delas escritas pelos falantes não nativos)]
    e sim: ''At my school we play...'' [1,870,000 ocorrências no Google]
     
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    Ariel Knightly

    Senior Member
    Brazilian Portuguese
    Pedi ajuda ao Alxmrphi, que se não é o maior, é certamente um dos maiores contribuidores que esse fórum já teve. Vou colar aqui o que ele me respondeu:
    We have 'institutions' and this includes things like hospitals/schools/offices and it also includes things like being at work and at home. You don't have to use the article when you're tying in the main reason for the existence of that institution into the meaning. So a hospital is there because people are sick, so if you say someone is 'in hospital', then it means they are sick and need treatment. To contrast this with somebody just being in the hospital (perhaps visiting) you use 'at the hospital' where 'at' is just used for location. If someone is sick you can still say 'in the hospital', but this can mean both the earlier meanings, i.e. being sick or visiting. It's not clear.


    Then with 'school', you can say 'at school' and 'in school' for BOTH asking about whether they are physically located there or whether they still attend the school. So examples of these are:


    Why don't you have the kids with you?
    They're still at school. I pick them up at three o'clock.


    Why don't you have the kids with you?
    They're still in school. I pick them up at three o'clock.


    How old are your kids? Are they still in school?
    No, they graduated last year.


    How old are your kids? Are they still at school?
    No, they graduated last year.


    Now when you add the definite articles to them (at the school/in the school) things start to become a bit more specific.
    Mainly because you're using an article, this specifies a specific place, a specific school and therefore the idea of 'an institution to attend/use' is not possible any more (notice that for the hospital example above there is an exception, using the article is still fine for this meaning). But with 'school' you are only referring to the physical location, and I believe this is the norm with other institutions. Since you're talking about being physically located there the preposition 'at' is the most normal example but examples with 'in' are not to be considered weird, it's just the contexts you would use them in are a lot less than those in which you would use the preposition 'at'. So if a husband has come to pick his wife up from work and she is a teacher, she might want another teacher to get in the car so her husband can give her a lift home and the husband can ask "Where is the other teacher you want to drop off?" you have to use 'Oh she's still in the school' (physical location). Because the husband and the wife are there now you can't say 'at the school' because they are already there, i.e. on the grounds. This then means inside the school building somewhere.
    Muito obrigado, Alxmrphi. Nós sentiremos muito a sua falta. :(
     

    Ariel Knightly

    Senior Member
    Brazilian Portuguese
    Eu:
    Does that article thing apply to any kind of determiner? I mean, would in my school and at my school necessarily have two different meanings? Is this example I found on the internet necessarily talking about the inside of the school?

    How do i ask someone in my school for weed?

    Does this sentence sound natural? Would replacing in by at give it a different meaning?
    Alxmrphi:
    Yeah that sounds natural, with 'my' it's like 'somebody who attends', though I guess if you said 'There is a person standing in my school' you could force the meaning of the 'situated in' (but might not actually attend), but that's more like a peripheral meaning where the other parts really make it obvious which one it is.
     

    kirakuni8

    Senior Member
    English - North American
    Ariel, I think you might be right, because all of your sentences made perfect sense (I'm talking about post #13)
     

    Ariel Knightly

    Senior Member
    Brazilian Portuguese
    No, I think it's the same in American English :)
    But would you have any kind of preference for at over in in the following example?

    Why don't you have the kids with you?
    They're still [?] school. I pick them up at three o'clock.

    I got two informants here who picked at as the preposition they would use in this context. Are both in and at really possible here?
     

    Ariel Knightly

    Senior Member
    Brazilian Portuguese
    Pronto. Finalmente consegui as respostas que queria. Pelo que me foi explicado aqui, a coisa funciona mais ou menos da seguinte maneira:

    1) at the school where you study or teach -> at achool

    . I'm still at school; I'll be home at 5:00.

    2) at school during study time -> in school (AmE), at school (BrE)

    . Why don't you have the kids with you?
    They're still in / at school. I pick them up at three o'clock


    . I can't talk to you now because I'm in / at school.

    3) A stage of life when one still goes to school - in school (AmE) at school (BrE)

    . What do you do?
    I’m still in / at school.


    Nos exemplos em 2, at também seria comum em inglês americano, já que seria possível ler aquelas frases com o sentido 1.

    Bom, quem tiver interesse pode encontrar a discussão completa no link que deixei acima. Lá também foram mencionados outros casos e tudo foi explicado em mais detalhe.

     
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