At/in [city name]

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06:36 Jul 13, 2018
English to English translations [Non-PRO]
General / Conversation / Greetings / Letters
English term or phrase: At/in [city name]
Although I'm used to using 'in' for any cities or villages, it really confuses me to see the use of 'at', unless in the context of 'the train stops at [town]', for example. However, 'he was born at [town]' sounds unnatural to me, and although most sources I've found agree, I've now been told that in British English this is the way to do it, with 'in' only being used for big and/or important cities. What is the correct way to do it in this case, or are both 'in' and 'at' correct?
Francisca Segers
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:29

Summary of answers provided
4 +3in
Karin Rockstad

Discussion entries: 16



11 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +3
at/in [city name]

Here is a link to using "in" as a preposition of place: › ... › English as a Second Language › Grammar
It says that "in" is used for cities, regions, etc., and "at" is used for places within cities, regions, etc. I'm a native US English speaker, and I've never used "at" London, or "at" New York. I know that British speakers do, but perhaps that has just become customary, but not necessarily accepted as grammatically correct. British speakers, you may want to chime in here. Also, you can see the book "The Essentials of English" by Anne Hogue, where it states that "at" is used for general areas.

Example sentence(s):
  • I live in Paris.
  • I'm at the post office in Paris.

Karin Rockstad
United States
Local time: 05:29
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  katsy: Well this British speaker would never say "at" London, except, as in the example given by Asker "I am at 'name of train/bus stop' , where it means first and foremost London viewed not as a city but as a stage on the journey.
23 hrs

agree  Helena Chavarria: I always say 'in' a village, town, city or country. I tell people that 'at' often means 'stopped at', as in traffic lights and bus stops.
1 day 11 mins

agree  AllegroTrans
2 days 1 hr
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