The confusion with the use of ‘in’ and ‘at’

It is undeniable that the correctness of grammar remains a tricky problem for some of us. Questions arise. When does one use ‘in’ or ‘at’? What is the rule? Well, you do not have to be confused anymore. Let me give you a simple explanation and provide some examples for better understanding.

Use ‘in’ with countries, large towns and use ‘at’ with small towns.

  • ‘in’ for countries:

Examples:   They live at Australia. (x)
They live in Australia.  (a)

The preposition at is wrongly used in the first sentence. The preposition in should be used for countries.

  • ‘in’ for cities or big towns:

Examples:   His plane landed at Tokyo. (x)

His plane landed in Tokyo. (a)

The preposition in should be used for cities or big towns. Since Tokyo is a city, the preposition in should be used.

  • ‘at’ for small towns or villages:

Examples:    They arrived in the small fishing village of Tambun. (x)

They arrived at the small fishing village of Tambun. (a)

Instead of the preposition in, the preposition at would be more suitable because Tambun is a small fishing village.

Let’s look at more examples:

  1. He is planning to vacation in the United States.
  2. She lives at Padang Menora, a small kampong in Province Wellesley.
  3. He owns a shop in Kuala Lumpur.
  4. He runs a money-changing business in a big shopping complex.
  5. They did some shopping in Sydney when they visited Australia.
  6. I am in KLIA, waiting at
  7. I live in Petaling Jaya. My house is at Kelana Jaya.

In other words, for a big area you use in, and for a small area, use at.