What's the correct construction? And why?

Example sentence:

"This was my first time at Oxford University"

"This was my first time in Oxford University"

  • 1
    How about "this was my first time to Oxford University"?
    – Andrew
    Sep 14 '17 at 15:44
  • If you are only asking about these examples, why use "X" in your title? If you mean preposition usage with any place, your question is too broad. At best, more context would be really helpful.
    – user3169
    Sep 14 '17 at 19:50

This was my first time at Oxford University makes more sense than in. Or, as Andrew stated, to also works well.

At and to both connote visiting Oxford University as an outsider -- perhaps as a tourist or an applicant or a guest lecturer.

In connotes that I am a part of the institution and am a member of the community of Oxford University, such as an enrolled student, a professor, or staff member.

So if I became a member of Oxford University on separate occasions, for example as an undergraduate student and then years later as a professor, then, yes, I could say This was my first time in Oxford University when referring to my undergraduate experience. Otherwise, at makes more sense given the context of the sentence.

  • 1
    Regarding your assertion that in connotes that I am a part of the institution..., I believe it might not be true cross-dialect.
    – user3395
    Sep 14 '17 at 16:17
  • What dialect(s) are you speaking of?
    – Ringo
    Sep 15 '17 at 0:10
  • British and American English.
    – user3395
    Sep 15 '17 at 10:01

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