Which one is correct in terms of the combination of two locations.

You work in Starbucks at the mall

You work at Starbucks in the mall

You work in Starbucks in the mall

You work at Starbucks at the mall

What is the rule behind the usage of at and in for this specific context?

  • Either, though "at" is likely more common. – Hot Licks Dec 22 '15 at 22:40

Both can be correct.

At the mall implies the mall is a particular location. This fits.

In the mall implies the mall is an enclosure or building. Even an outdoor mall with no roof roughly fits the "enclosure* definition.

  • To further elaborate, at some malls, there may be some free-standing buildings outside the main building (e.g. gas stations). In such a case, the business is "at the mall," but not "in the mall." If the business is inside the mall, it is both "in" and "at the mall." – Steven Littman Dec 23 '15 at 2:21

It sounds more natural to say "at Starbucks in the mall." That would use mall to refer to an indoor shopping center. An outdoor strip mall that was locally referred to as a mall might change the answer to "at the mall." A Starbucks hypothetically located alongside the lawn between the Washington Monument and the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. would require "on the Mall," although the only buildings there are museums.

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