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I have a question about the use of "at the beach". I know there were similar topics, however in none of them I can find whether it is possible to say "sit at the beach". More specifically I want to know whether it is correct in this sentence: "By this time next week, we will be sitting at the beach." To me it sounds more natural to say "on the beach" in this case, but I need a second opinion.

closed as primarily opinion-based by Jason Bassford, TrevorD, tchrist Mar 24 at 16:19

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  • At the beach is more idiomatic than on the beach. On would normally only be specified if you are talking about the physical sand, or some other beach composition, rather than the locale itself. The locale is a location, so at is used. For example, at the restaurant, not on the restaurant. (But the use of the definite article also plays a role. If you're talking about a specific beach, then at is certainly more common; if you're talking about a beach in general, then on a beach might also be used.) – Jason Bassford Mar 17 at 19:16
  • It's perfectly fine. There are subtle differences between "at" and "on" (or "in") in such contexts, but there are no hard and fast rules as to which to use in most cases. – Hot Licks Mar 17 at 19:37
  • American say 'at the beach' where Brits say 'by the seaside'. Sitting by the sea would be very natural for us. – Michael Harvey Mar 17 at 22:04
  • In the UK I would say that "sitting at the beach" would imply sitting somewhere very close to the beach, for instance on a promenade, on rocks or in a bar or cafe whereas "sitting on the beach" would imply sitting on the beach itself, even if you were on a chair, lounger or towel. – BoldBen Mar 18 at 7:29
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I agree with you: I would also say "sitting on the beach". I did a search for *ing _i* the beach (words ending in ing followed by a preposition followed by "the beach") in the Corpus of Contemporary American English and it has 42 hits for "sitting on the beach" and only 2 hits for "sitting at the beach". In addition, there are several similar expressions shown by this query (e.g. standing, lying, lounging) and they all prefer to be paired with on as well.

  • I definitely agree with on as that's closest to German "an", chiefly inflected "am Strand". For going to its "an den Strand" as well, or "zum Strand" (zu related to to). However, we don't sit up on the beach (Ger. auf, which may translate to on in other contexts). – vectory Mar 17 at 21:26
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Indeed, it may be somewhat variable, as I would suggests "by the shore", instead of "at". go at it means against. This may differ for various dialects, e.g. if influenced by Spanish or French a, "vamos a la playa (o-oh-oho)".

  • My Spanish is very rudimentary but doesn't "Vamos a la playa" mean "go to the beach" not "on the beach", "at the beach" or "by the beach". – BoldBen Mar 18 at 7:40
  • Indeed, and it seems they would sit "en" the beach, too – vectory Mar 18 at 17:50
  • @BoldBen, However French "nous sommes à la plage*, "we are at the beach", does yield results. I'm not sure exactly what it means. – vectory Mar 19 at 20:03
  • "We are at the beach" is Br English as well. It just doesn't mean that we are, necessarily on the beach, just that we are in its immediate neighbourhood. See my comment to the OP for suggestions of where. – BoldBen Mar 20 at 20:39
  • refer to english.stackexchange.com/a/490383/326936 (difference between next-to and by). – vectory Mar 24 at 19:15

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