Which preposition should I use in the following context:

  1. She always finds herself at the centre of awkward situations.
  2. She always finds herself in the centre of awkward situations.

I feel 'at' should be used in this instance, although it's just my feeling and I can be wrong. Also, is there a general rule which one of 'at' and 'in' should be used while talking about abstract things rather than more concrete things, like buildings etc.?

  • "In" implies that something is inside a space. As "the centre of awkward situations" is not a space, you must use "at" in this case. – Luke Aug 17 '16 at 1:50
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    @Luke Doubtful. Do you have any evidence to back up your assertion. The Ngram viewer finds that currently at the center of things is more popular than in the center of things, but both are found in its corpus. – deadrat Aug 17 '16 at 2:30
  • @deadrat I'm pretty sure you have a point, both "in" and "at" can be used associated with "the center of something/somewhere",but from a grammatical view this "something/somewhere" needs to be a space that contains other thing in order to take "in" before it. – Luke Aug 17 '16 at 3:44
  • @deadrat english.stackexchange.com/questions/87306/… – Luke Aug 17 '16 at 3:50
  • @Luke From a grammatical point of view at an in here are prepositions and as such they take objects to make phrases that take on various functions in a sentence. That's it. From an idiomatic point of view, you may be right, but I'd like some evidence for your assertion. The OED finds 40 major categories of meaning for in, falling into five classes, only one of which is spatial. So I can say "in my opinion", which has nothing to do with space. – deadrat Aug 17 '16 at 4:32

To me, both are correct. You use "in the centre of awkward situations" when you mean you are, in general, amidst of awkward situations. You use "at the centre of awkward situations" when you meant you are exactly at the center of those situations, like everything revolves around you.

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