Do you arrive “to” the airport or “at” the airport? Do you fly “to” London or fly “at” London? In this lesson, I will teach you an easy way to know which preposition to use when. I’ll explain which word refers to movement and which one refers to location. Watch this lesson so you can be sure – today and always!
Hi. I’m Rebecca from engVid. In this lesson you’ll learn the difference between two commonly confused prepositions, which are “to” and “at”. So, the thing to remember is that “to” always suggests movement or direction. All right? “To” with movement, you’re going to someone, to someplace, or towards something. So, “to” is movement or direction, and “at” suggests a location in place or time. So, “to” something, but “at” somewhere. “To” something, “at” somewhere. Do you see the difference? “To”, there’s movement. “At”, you’ve already arrived. Okay? So: “to” and “at”. If you use those gestures it may help you to think through it while you’re choosing which preposition to use.
So, let’s look at some examples. So, as again… As I said, again, we use “to” for movement or direction towards a person, a place, or a thing. For example: “I talked to him.”, “We went to school.”, “She walked to her car.” A person, a place, a thing. Movement, “to”. Okay? All right, here are some other common verbs. There are lots and lots of verbs that we can use with this preposition “to”, which implies movement. These are some examples. You go to someplace, you go to school. You go to the university. You go to work. You run to something. You fly to London. You return to somewhere. Okay? Or you can also use lots of verbs with “to” plus a person. You explain something to someone, send a letter to someone, read it to someone, write to someone, or speak to someone. There’s a direction. Right? Whether you’re speaking, or writing, or walking, or running – “to” is always movement and direction. Good.
Now, “at” is steady. Whereas “to” is moving, “at” is very steady. “At” stays in one place, “at” is location, location and place, location and time. For example: “We arrived”-where?-“at the airport.” We drove to the airport, and then we arrived at the airport. All right? So: “We arrived at the airport.” Or: “Wake me up at 6:00.” So, again, it’s a location or a place in time, or a physical place. All right? Got it? Now, here are some other examples of verbs that you can use with “at”, but again, there are lots and lots of verbs. So what’s really important is not to learn the verbs, but to learn how these prepositions are used and what exactly they mean. But here are some examples. We stayed at the hotel, for example. I live at… I work at… I eat at this restaurant. I shop at the mall. Okay? So, “at” plus place or sometimes “at” plus time. Call me at 5:00. Let’s meet at noon. Let’s start at 10:00. Okay? So we have “at”, location. Okay? Arrival, and “to” is always movement or direction. Got that? Now let’s do a little quiz to make sure that you really got it.
All right, now let’s do the quiz. Now remember: “to” indicates movement and “at” indicates location or arrival. So, here we go.
“We stayed _______ home.”
“at home” or “We stayed to home”? “We stayed”… In all of these cases you have to choose between “to” and “at”. “We stayed at home.” Okay? Stay somewhere.
“I spoke _______ Jack.”
“to Jack”, “I spoke at Jack”? What do we say? “I spoke to”. The direction of your speech is towards Jack.
“She went _______ the bank.”
“to the bank” or “at the bank”? “She went”, so “went” is movement. Right? Think of the verb. The verb is talking about movement. “She went to the bank.”
“I bought this keychain _______ the gift shop.”
“to the gift shop” or “at the gift shop”? So here the answer would be “at”. Very good.
Next… The next one:
“Meet me _______ the coffee shop.”
“Meet me to the coffee shop”, “at the coffee shop”? What do we say? “Meet me at”, right? Because it’s a place.
“The movie starts _______ 4:00.”
“to 4:00”, “at 4:00”? Which one is right? “The movie starts at”, okay? We always use “at” for very specific times.
“We flew _______ Amsterdam.”
What do we say? “We flew…” Flew, movement. Right? Flying is movement. “to Amsterdam”, very good.
“I sent a card _______ my Mom.”
Sending, is it movement? Yes. Sending implies movement, so for movement we have to say: “I sent a card to my Mom.” Okay.
“She read a story _______ her son.”
When you’re reading, the activity is directed towards someone, so: “She read a story to her son.”
And the last one:
“John studied _______ the library.”
So, where was he? Was he in one place or was he moving? He was in one place, one location. All right? So we can say: “John studied at the library.”
Okay? I hope that my little demonstrations helped you to understand the meaning of “to” as well as “at”. All right? If you’d like to do some more practice, please go to our website, www.engvid.com.