“In a City” or “At a City” – Correct Preposition For Cities

Marcus Froland

Are you confused about when to use ‘in’ or ‘at’ when talking about cities? You’re not alone! Many people struggle with the correct preposition for cities.

This article will help you understand the basics of prepositions and provide examples so that you can confidently choose between ‘in’ and ‘at’ when speaking about cities.

Ready to learn more? Let’s get started!

Key Takeaways

  • When referring to cities, ‘in’ is generally used.
  • ‘At’ can be used when talking about a city as a destination for an event or activity.
  • ‘In’ is used to refer to a city’s general location.
  • ‘At’ points to a specific spot within a city.

The Basics Of Prepositions

Prepositions are vital for expressing context in a sentence, so it’s important to know the basics. Generally speaking, when referring to cities, you should use the preposition ‘in’. For example, you would say ‘I live in New York City’ or ‘I’m visiting in London’.

You can also use ‘at’ if you’re talking about a city as a destination for an event or activity. For instance, ‘I’m going to a concert at Los Angeles’.

It is also possible to use other prepositions such as ‘on’, however this tends to be used less frequently and usually has more specific connotations such as being on the outskirts of a city.

To avoid confusion and ensure your meaning is conveyed accurately, always remember that when talking about cities it’s best to go with either ‘in’ or ‘at’.

The Difference Between In and At

When talking about cities, the preposition ‘in’ is usually used to refer to a city’s general location. For instance, if you say ‘I’m in Chicago,’ it means you’re in the city limits. This distinction applies no matter what type of place you’re referring to—it could be a store, restaurant, park or other landmark.

On the other hand, ‘at’ typically points to a specific spot within that city. If you say ‘I’m at Wrigley Field,’ it implies that you are currently at a certain location within Chicago.

In addition, when talking about visiting a place for the first time, ‘in’ should be used instead of ‘at.’ For example: I’m visiting Chicago for the first time.

When To Use In and At With Cities

Knowing when to use ‘in’ and ‘at’ with cities is important for proper grammar. Generally, you should use ‘in’ for larger cities and ‘at’ for smaller towns. Here’s a visual guide to help:

  • Larger Cities:

  • Use ‘in’: In Los Angeles, In Tokyo, In London

  • Small Towns:

  • Use ‘at’: At Port Jefferson, At Bar Harbor, At Bozeman

  • Everywhere Else:

  • Use either: In/At Miami Beach, In/At Myrtle Beach.

Knowing when to use these prepositions helps create written communications that are accurate and precise. It’s also an essential component of mastering the English language.

Common Examples of In and At Cities

You’ve likely used in and at with cities before, so it’s helpful to look at some common examples.

For instance, when referring to a city as a whole, the preposition ‘in’ is more often used than ‘at.’ For example, you might say ‘I’m in London,’ rather than ‘I’m at London.’

When referring to specific places within a city however, ‘at’ is more commonly used. For example: ‘We’re at the theater in New York City.’

Additionally, if you are going to or from an airport or train station within a city then you use ‘to/from,’ as in “we’re flying from Los Angeles International Airport.”

To summarize: when referring to cities themselves, use ‘in,’ and for places within cities use ‘at.’

Troubleshooting Tips for In and At Cities

Confusing when to use ‘in’ or ‘at’ for cities can be tricky, so here are some troubleshooting tips:

  • For larger, more populous cities, it is typically proper to use the preposition ‘in’. For example, you would say "I live in New York City."

  • For smaller towns and cities, the preposition ‘at’ is preferred. You might say "I am at Corvallis."

  • If unsure about which preposition to use for a specific city or town, consult an online map service or dictionary definition of that place name. They will usually note whether the city should be referred to as being in or at a certain location.


You now know the difference between ‘in’ and ‘at’ when it comes to cities.

In most cases, you should use ‘in’ for large cities or countries and ‘at’ for smaller ones.

If you’re ever unsure, look up common examples of ‘in’ and ‘at’ cities to get an idea of the right preposition.

Remember that accuracy is key when it comes to using prepositions correctly, so take your time and double-check your work!