Posted by DRC on April 28, 2005
In Reply to: In/at school posted by Smokey Stover on April 28, 2005
: : : : : : What's the difference between "in school" and "at school"?
: : : : : : He is in school.
: : : : : : He is at school.
: : : : : : Is there any nuance change?
: : : : : Not to my UK ear.
: : : : There's not a lot of difference to my U.S. ear. But I have heard people say, "He is in school" to mean he is enrolled. He hasn't graduated or left school. And "He is at school" to mean he is there right now.
: : : I have to second ESC as to American usage. He is "in school" can be used to mean he's there right now, as in the case of "at school." Or he's enrolled. SS
: : :There is a difference to my UK ear. "In school" sounds slightly American to me and I wouldn't expect anybody where I live (SE England)to use it. Here we use "at school" for both meanings: "currently enrolled" or "at this moment".
: Sometimes (ofttimes, actually) I'm a bit obtuse. I should have mentioned that Americans will often say of someone, "He's at the school," when his busines at the school is not studying or attending class. "He's at school" implies that he is a student and attending classes (or a teacher and attending to classes). There is at least one situation in which you would very likely say, "He's in the school." Your nominee, anyone? SS
My nominee, Smokey, is that "the school" is used to mean the building itself, such as when the building is evacuated for a fire drill.
As for the argument, I agree with ESC.