I am used to saying "I am in India.". But somewhere I saw it said "I am at Puri (Oriisa)". I would like to know the differences between "in" and "at" in the above two sentences.
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There are many answers for this, but looking at the dictionary we get:
People are usually using in to note a general location and at for a more specific location.
EDIT: But note also the difference when in is used to indicate inside
When talking about location, in is generally used for a larger area where there are numerous specific locations possible
The preposition at is generally used for a specific location or thing.
However, the above at usage is indifferent to whether you are indoors or outdoors. You could be on the street in front of your hotel or inside. You could be in your yard at home or in the bathroom at home.
If you want to convey that you are indoors at a specific location, you would use in
The above conventions reflect an American usage which may or may not be similar in other English speaking countries.
Well, I really find this interesting.
For instance, I could say:
In can always be used to describe location in a country: in India, in the United States, in Japan. In is also used with cities: in Delhi, in Washington, in Tokyo, but in some contexts, at may also be found. It has long been the practice, for example, to speak of ‘Her Majesty’s Ambassador at [name of capital]’. That practice may continue in Indian English. If so, it would explain at Puri, but in an international context it will normally be safer to use in for most geographical locations.
Something missing from the other answers posted so far, I feel, is that at is appropriate where there is an expectation of or potential for travel away from the location, or where it's important to distinguish it from other potential locations. So if somebody asked where I was, I might say
if I'd been at other locations that day and expected only to be there for a while (especially if the other person knew this). Similarly, I might say
For slightly different reasons, I'd say
to distinguish it from the other potential hotels.
In the house or hotel is more appropriate in other contexts but I"m not going to examine those exhaustively right now.
"At" is generally used for smaller, specific locations, like at home, at work, at Starbucks, at Comicon.
"In" is used for larger areas, like countries, towns, cities...
The at Puri example is non-standard. It's possible that the speaker was saying something like at [the XYZ in] Puri, using Puri as an abbreviation. That's my guess, anyway.
When we are talking about location which is larger than other places, we use in. For example:
And when we're talking about a place which is general in meaning, we use at. For example:
protected by tchrist Jul 23 '14 at 3:20
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