3

There is a test question with multiple answers:

"There are lots of managers ..... my company."

  1. at
  2. on
  3. in

I have feeling that it is possible to use both 'at' an 'in' in this sentence. Is this correct? Is there any difference in the meaning?

I did check this ngram which suggests both can be used.

  • 1
    "at the place where I work", perhaps, but "in my company" is probably what is expected. – Mick Dec 12 '16 at 20:13
  • @Mick I checked Google ngram and can see rising usage of 'at my company' (but 'in my company' is still more common). – AlexD Dec 12 '16 at 20:25
  • @AbsoluteBeginner, I see that it doesn't have any hits for 'managers at my company' but I still see a lot of generic Google results for this phrase (56K vs 188K results for 'managers in my company). I understand that I can't relay just on Google results but that is why I'm asking here for more authoritative answer. – AlexD Dec 12 '16 at 20:35
  • 1
    On GloWbE (the international corpus of web-based English), "Manager in/at * company" (where the * means any one word) has only 75 hits, 46 of them with "at" and 29 with "in". In the NOW corpus (News on the Web), there are 212, of which 149 are with "at", and 63 with "in". So it would appear that (at least on the web) "at * company" is rather more common than "in * company". – Colin Fine Dec 12 '16 at 20:48
  • When I try something rather generic, like this, my findings mirror yours. (One can easily draw erroneous conclusions about prepositions when the wording is overly specific and the sample size too small.) I don't think this is a very good test question. – J.R. Dec 12 '16 at 22:59
4

Either "at" or "in" is fine, as you surmised.

Which you choose depends on how you think about the company. If as a container, then you'll likely use "in", but if you view it as a place to which you go each morning, then "at".

A comparable choice applies to islands and boats for broadly the same reasons. One can be on an island if we think of it as a surface ("we're renting a house on Martha's Vineyard for the summer"), or in an island ("I'm going to be in Cuba for the winter") if we think of it as a vessel of some kind.

1

We would not say:

In Evil Inc, we have many managers.unidiomatic

This is how it would be said:

At Evil Inc, we have many managers.

But if you change the proper name to "the company", then there is more freedom, and you could say

There are many middle-managers in the company.

There are many middle-managers at the company.

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