The given sentence is

I live (in/at) Ambala (in/at) Harayana (in/at) India.

Ambala is a town in the state of Harayna which is in India (country). You can replace the place names with anything familiar for understanding.

My English teacher and my mother argued that the answer is 'at,in,in'. They said that because these blanks are successive, and Ambala is smaller as compared to a state and a country that are in the same sentence, 'at' will be used for Ambala.

My argument was that the correct answer should be 'in/in/in'. This mainly comes from intuition from reading lots of novels. If I had to say a reason, it would be that all three are big enough places and successive use of in/at doesn't make any difference.

I need a third informed opinion. Thanks.

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    Your English teacher and your mother are mistaken. We only usually use at before a "location" if that location is somehow "addressable" (in and of itself, it identifies a position / location within some "extended place", such as at the end of the lane, at 10 Downing Street,...). – FumbleFingers Sep 13 '19 at 13:24
  • @FF ... or when considered as a point on a line (We get off at Leeds). – Edwin Ashworth Sep 13 '19 at 13:50
  • ...(ie the 'extended place' is part-notional (the railway journey). – Edwin Ashworth Oct 14 '19 at 8:13

Both "in" and "at" are acceptable grammatically in the first gap.

While most people would use "in" for a town where they live, "at" is acceptable. Stylistically "at" breaks up the repetition and makes the sentence clearer.

To live at somewhere is usually only used when giving a precise location. I live at 4 Privet Drive, but in the village of Little Whinging. But variations are allowed.

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    I disagree, and will downvote unless you find an authority licensing 'I live at Little Whinging' say. It sounds very unidiomatic to me.' – Edwin Ashworth Sep 13 '19 at 13:49
  • I think we agree exactly. "at Little Whinging" is unusual but grammatically acceptable (or as you would put it "unidiomatic). – DJClayworth Oct 13 '19 at 20:44
  • I remember J Lawler once saying about some phrasing: "It's grammatical. But that's the only good thing you can say about it." And Orwell effectively says "Break any other rule [grammaticality even] to avoid ending up with something that sounds distinctly off (ie is usually avoided)." – Edwin Ashworth Oct 14 '19 at 8:17

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