Difference Between In and At

Main Difference – In vs At

In and at are two commonly misused prepositions in the English language. These two prepositions are commonly misused when they are used as prepositions of place and prepositions of time. Therefore, we will specifically examine their usage as prepositions of place and time in this article. The main difference between in and at is their specificity. The preposition in is mostly used with less specific times and locations whereas at is used with specific times and places. In addition, there are also other specific uses for these two prepositions, which cannot be interchanged. We’ll look at these uses in more details in this article. 

This article covers,

In – Meaning and Usage

At – Meaning and Usage

Difference Between In and At

In vs At | Where to use ‘In’ and Where to use ‘At’
Places Used with less specific location Used with more specific location
Used with the names of country, city, or town Used with specific address
Time Used with specific times Used with nonspecific times

Used with ‘Morning,’ ‘Afternoon,’ ‘Evening’

Used with Noon, Night, Midnight

In – Meaning and Usage

In can be used as a preposition of place and time. In both instances, it is used with nonspecific times or locations.

Preposition of Time:

You can use in when the sentence doesn’t indicate a specific time. In can be used with nonspecific times during a day, month, season, or year.

She likes to read newspaper in the morning.

She will retire in August.

My uncle was born in the late 60s.

Preposition of Place:

In refers to nonspecific places. When describing the position of an object or a person, it indicates that the object is within the boundaries of an area or is contained within something else.

 I kept it in your bag.

She lives in a small town

I have been living in Madrid for two years.

In the last example, one could argue that Madrid indicates a specific location since it is place name, but this sentence doesn’t indicate the exact location, i.e., where in Madrid?.

Main Difference - In vs At

She was born in January.

At – Meaning and Usage

At is always used with specific times and locations. This is the most important to remember before you using this preposition.

Preposition of Time:

At is used with specific times. Moreover, it is also used with the times noon, night, and midnight.

The meeting starts at 4.30 pm.

The train is leaving at 12.50 pm.

The bus leaves at noon.

Preposition of Location:

At is also used with a specific location. For example, we use at with an address.

He lives at 7/11, Chandos Street, in Durham.

He is at the bank.

I’m at school.

At is also used with larger places (e.g. bank and school), but it is implied that the reader or the listener knows the location mentioned.

Difference Between In and At

The train is leaving at 12.50 pm

Specific Uses 

You might have noticed that some words and phrases are always used with either in or at. For example, let’s look at the times of the day. You might have noticed that morning, evening, and afternoon are often preceded by in whereas noon and midnight are often preceded by at. 

I saw her in the morning. 

He came home at midnight.

Difference Between In and At


In is less specific than at.

At is more specific than in.


In refers to a less specific location.

At refers to a more specific location.


In indicates nonspecific times during a day, month, season, or year.

At indicates specific times.

Times of the day

In is used with morning, afternoon and evening.

At is used with noon, night and midnight.


In is used with the name of the country, city, or town.

At is used with the address.

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About the Author: Hasa

Hasanthi is a seasoned content writer and editor with over 8 years of experience. Armed with a BA degree in English and a knack for digital marketing, she explores her passions for literature, history, culture, and food through her engaging and informative writing.