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Can we use both "participate at" and "participate in" interchangeably? Is there a difference between the two if any?

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Participate is not tied to a particular preposition such as at or in. Like other verbs, it can be modified by a phrase beginning with a preposition. The choice of preposition will depend more on what commonly goes with the rest of the prepositional phrase, not on the verb. Some examples:

  • Everyone will participate in the weekly meeting.

  • I would like to participate at the $100 level.

  • Sheila wants to participate with me.

  • We participate through our parent organization.

  • The nytimes uses "at " as follow: markets.on.nytimes.com/research/stocks/news/… – user17857 Feb 1 '12 at 0:56
  • @Mohammad: The use of "at" rather than "in" there somewhat downplays the role of that company. For example, they may not be presenting a talk to the attendees en masse - perhaps they'll just have a couple of their guys manning a stall. The nytimes probably just inserted the company's press release verbatim - Maidenform Brands would have said they were "presenting at" the conference if they'd got a major slot in the main auditorium, addressing most of the attendees. – FumbleFingers Feb 1 '12 at 2:36
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I wondered about this as well. When I Google 'participate at or award' I find that both are used in relation to 'participating ... an award'. However, the number of hits returned at 'participating in the award' is about 25 times that of 'participating at the award'. So if you look at usage, participating seems to be more common while having the same meaning/use.

  • This is actually a question and answer page, not a discussion page. Each answer that you post in an answer box is expected to stand alone as an expert answer to the question at the top. Personal opinions, speculation, anecdotes, and general discussion are welcome in English Language & Usage Chat. – MetaEd Oct 20 '17 at 15:33
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    this is not a personal opinion, it is an answer: it seems to be used interchangeably, but one type of use is more common than the other. quite useful information I think. I disagree with the downvote. – Thieme Hennis Nov 1 '17 at 18:26
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When it has to do with an event, activity or a program, the appropriate preposition is "in". For instance, participants in a training workshop, seminar, football gala etc. When any other preposition is used, that other preposition might just be introducing an additional phrase ( or information) and in that case "in" is implied and thus taken for granted. Eg participants at level two hundred performed so well. In this sentence, at level two hundred is just additional information. The full sentence might have read participants in the competition (who are) at level two hundred performed so well.

  • I don't think this is right. I can be "at" an event without participating "in" it. Perhaps you could edit your answer to add a quote or reference from a suitably authoritative source in support of your suggested rule. For further guidance, see How to Answer. :-) – Chappo Oct 24 '18 at 8:10

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