Meaning of AT in English


at S1 W1 /ət; strong æt/ BrE AmE preposition

[ Language: Old English ; Origin: æt ]

1 . used to say exactly where something or someone is, or where something happens:

They live at 18 Victoria Street.

Does this train stop at Preston?

I was waiting at the bus stop.

Liz and her friend sat down at a corner table.

Turn left at the church.

We’ll meet at Harry’s (=at Harry’s house) .

I spent an unpleasant hour at the dentist’s.

Dad’s at work (=in the place where he works) .

at the top/bottom/end etc (of something)

At the top of the stairs, she paused.

2 . used to say what event or activity someone is taking part in:

I met my wife at a disco.

The matter was discussed at a meeting of the finance committee.

I’m sorry, Pam’s at lunch just now.

3 . used to say that someone is studying somewhere regularly:

Is Jessica still at school?

Hulme was a student at Oxford in the 1960s.

4 . used to say exactly when something happens:

The film starts at 8 o'clock.

5 . during a particular period of time:

My husband often works at night.

We go to Midnight Mass at Christmas.

6 . used to say which thing or person an action is directed towards or intended for:

He gazed up at the sky.

You don’t have to shout at me.

The older girls used to throw stones at me.

The course is aimed at those aged 16 or over.

7 . used to say what or who causes an action or feeling:

The children all laughed at his jokes.

I’m surprised at you!

Dad got really mad at me for scratching the car.

her distress at having to leave

8 . used to say which subject or activity you are talking about when you say whether someone is skilful, successful etc or not:

Barbara’s getting on really well at her new job.

good/bad etc at (doing) something

I’ve always been good at maths.

Matt’s bad at handling people.

He’s an expert at making things out of junk.

9 . used to say that someone or something is in a particular state:

two nations at war

Many children are still at risk from neglect or abuse.

10 . used to show a price, rate, level, age, speed etc:

old books selling at 10 cents each

You should have more sense at your age.

The Renault was travelling at about 50 mph.

Amanda rode off at a gallop.

11 . at your best/worst/most effective etc used to say that, at a particular time, someone or something is as good, bad etc as they can be:

The garden is at its best in June.

This was Federer at his most powerful.

12 . used to say what someone tries to touch, or keeps touching:

I clutched at the rope.

George was just picking at his food.

Sarah took another sip at her wine.

13 . used to say what someone tries to do:

the student’s first attempt at a piece of research

They were so beautiful that I decided to have a go at growing them.

14 . because of what someone has said:

Chapman visited Austria at the invitation of his friend, Hugo Meisl.

At my suggestion, Bernard went to see his former teacher.

15 . while I’m/you’re etc at it spoken used to suggest that someone should do something while they are doing something else:

I’m just going for a cup of coffee. Shall I bring you one while I’m at it?

16 . be at it again informal if you say that someone is at it again, you mean that they are doing something you disapprove of, which they have done before:

She’s at it again, interfering in other people’s business.

17 . at that

a) also or besides:

It’s a new idea, and a good one, at that.

b) after something is said:

Tess called him a liar and at that he stormed out of the room.

18 . be where it’s at old-fashioned informal used to say that a place or activity is very popular, exciting, and fashionable

⇨ at all at ↑ all 1 (6)

• • •


at, in, on

Talking about time

Use at

– with clock times:

at one o'clock

at 6.30

– with points of time in the day:

at midnight

at noon

at dawn

at sunset

– with holiday periods, meaning the few days around the holiday:

at Easter

at Diwali

– with weekend , in British English:

See you at the weekend!

At weekends we go out.

Use in

– with parts of the day:

in the morning

in the evening

I never watch TV in the daytime.

– with months, seasons, years, and centuries:

in May

in the summer

in 2004

in the 21st century

Use on

– with dates and specific days:

on 29th July

on Tuesday afternoons

on the last day of term

– with weekend , in American English:

We sometimes go there on weekends.

Talking about position and place

Use at

– with particular positions or places:

at the end of the corridor

at the back of the room

at the corner of the street

– to mean 'next to' or 'beside':

She sat at her desk.

He stopped me at the door.

– with words for buildings, for example airport , university , restaurant , art gallery :

at the airport

at the Lyceum theatre

– with city or place names, when you are talking about stopping during a journey:

Does this train stop at Watford?

► BUT otherwise use in – see below

Use in

– with a position or place, when something or someone is inside a larger thing such as a room:

in the bath

in the kitchen

in the garden

in the doorway

– with cities, counties, states, and countries:

When will you arrive in Tokyo?

He lives in Germany.

She’s working in California.

– with the names of squares, plazas etc:

in Times Square

Use on

– with a position or place, when one thing is attached to or touching another:

a spot on the end of her nose

He hung his jacket on the back of a chair.

You can use either in or on with street names in British English. In American English, use on :

in Oxford Street

on the High Street

on 42nd Street

on Broadway

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.