This dictionary says:

• You use here on its own, when you are talking about a place or organization:

The people here are poor.

Do you work here?

✗Don’t say: The people in here are poor. | Do you work in here?

• You use in here when talking about the inside of a building, room, cupboard etc:

It’s crowded in here.

There aren’t enough chairs in here.

Ok, let say, you & a person are eating inside a restaurant & then you say:

I used to work here (or in here)?

Suppose you are an ex-waiter of this restaurant.

It seems like "here" is more logical & "in here" is more physical .


In your example, yes: We would say

I used to work here

meaning "this place we are at".

It may or may not be useful to think about one option as more logical or more physical.

In here can be more specific, as Peter suggests in his answer. It refers to a space that is contained in a boundary, either a two-dimensional area or a three-dimensional space.

We can use here to refer to a wider conceptual kind of space, such as time. Our story now brings us here to the 21st century.

Although a century is marked by boundaries, we won't use in here to refer to it in any way I can imagine.

We often have a free choice between the two, as Peter also indicates.

I think we can say that in here usually or always means within this (enclosed or bounded) space where we are, while here can more generally mean this location when we think of this location somewhat more broadly (I'm here at work, whether actually in the kitchen or dining room where we perform our work or sitting in a break room that's considered part of or attached to the location). We might at least sometimes think of here as meaning this place as opposed to some other place.

But a general and always-governing rule specifying when we must use one versus the other versus either is hard to specify, from my knowledge.

In a dining room or kitchen (bounded spaces) for example, we could naturally say either It's crowded here or it's crowded in here. This is a relatively free choice, but we would likely use here if we are comparing to another, separate or remote location: It's crowded here. Is it crowded there? (eg, at another restaurant) and in here if we are comparing to out there (eg, the main dining room compared to an adjacent patio area).

However, if we are standing in the middle of Antarctica, another bounded space, we would not say It's cold in here. So the size or extent of an area is seemingly a factor, but I doubt anyone could specify a limit distinguishing small from large that would govern all choices on this principle.

In my experience, we generally best learn what is standard through more and more exposure to standard writing and speech, often unconsciously, while leaving very sophisticated identification of detailed technical rules to professional linguists (or amatuers who enjoy diving ever deeper into complexities because we enjoy such exploration for its own sake.

Someone might provide a better answer, or just yet another perspective that we can try to put together to gain a clearer sense of the issue.

There is a similar--and similarly complex--question involving the choices we make between in and at as prepositions of location.

This provides an overview of that set of issues that is in some parts easily understandable, but won't answer every related question: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/594/03/

| improve this answer | |

"In here" is a subset of "here"

So, whenever you are "in here" (someplace)you are also "here".

I used to work in here (while standing in the kitchen), not out on the floor.
I used to work here (while standing in the kitchen).

"In here" only works if you are "inside someplace".

You could say

The people in here are poor.

if you are standing inside a stadium full of refugees

(source: aljazeera.com)

The people here are poor.

would also be appropriate.

A standard line which gets used in ceremonies is

We gather here today...

and not

We gather in here (church or some building) today...

since the emphasis is on the "gathering" of people and not on being together in a structure.

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  • 1
    ok, A is a bar now. B has just come to the bar & then approached A & said to A "I m coming here to say that..." or "I m coming in here to say that..." – Tom Dec 28 '16 at 6:09
  • 1
    Since B has already entered the bar, probably I've come here/in here to ... . Both are standard and natural in this case. Here would be more likely if B came from a place that is more clearly not the bar (from B's home or another bar, for example), and in here if B has entered the barroom proper from, for example, the bar manager's office, which may be part of or just outside the barroom proper. – Jim Reynolds Dec 28 '16 at 6:30
  • @Tom In your new case, "here" might be more appropriate since what is being said is "I've come (over) here to talk to you" whether it is from another part of the bar or from someplace else. B might also say "I've come in here (to the bar from someplace) to talk to you", the additional emphasis on in might be used of the bar is particularly questionable and B wants to make a point of it. Both would be correct. – Peter Dec 28 '16 at 7:27
  • Or what is being said may perfectly well be "I've come (in) here . . . ." There is no reason to suppose that the operative word or concept would be over instead of in, or that the speaker has in mind any such distinction at all. And I don't see how an emphasis on in relates to an idea that the place is "questionable". Out of all the various nuances we might think up, if that is what a speaker wanted to convey, the stress would likely be on here. – Jim Reynolds Dec 28 '16 at 11:03

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