• I saw him at / in the station a few days ago
  • I saw a giraffe at / in the zoo yesterday.

What should we use with saw (see)?

  • 2
    It has nothing to do with see.
    – TimR
    Commented Mar 24, 2017 at 13:57

1 Answer 1


You should generally use "at", unless it is important to denote the physical location of something. For example someone is not "at" the bathroom they are "in" the bathroom, because they are physically inside the specific room.

However you can be "at" the Mall, or the doctor's office. I think the following example is the best clarifier.

I met him at the jail

This means that "I" met "him", in the administrative offices/visitor center of a prison. The implication is that neither party here is a prisoner, simply that the meeting took place in or around the facility. However,

I met him in jail

Implies that both parties were prisoners, who were in the actual holding facility at the time.

  • "in the jail" would be ambiguous. Maybe only he was the prisoner, not I?
    – TimR
    Commented Mar 25, 2017 at 10:13

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