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What is the best preposition for "touch down"? Can we use it without any preposition?

For example:

  • We've just touched down Qatar.
  • We've just touched down at Qatar.
  • We've just touched down in Qatar.

OR

  • We've just touched down at the airport.
  • We've just touched down in the airport.
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The term "airport" refers to the entire aerodrome, including the runways and related buildings. However, when you say "in" an airport, that tends to refer to the buildings, because the runways etc are outside. So, saying a plane landed "in" an airport is incorrect, it should be "we've just touched down at the airport".

When it comes to the name of a town, city or country, we say that we are "in" it, so it would be correct to say "we've just touched down in Qatar".

The only context where "in" and "at" becomes a choice is if you are distinguishing between being within the boundaries, or at the perimeter of something. For example, you might arrive at a building by car, and then go in on foot.

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  • "In" and "at" can become a problem with cities, towns, and smaller locations such as villages, at least in British usage. We say in London, Birmingham, Liverpool, etc, but we could say *at" a small village, as we would for a landmark such as a road junction, lake, bridge, etc. It is interesting to see how "at" was used for some places in the past (e.g. Bristol) but now they are bigger, we see "in" instead. Aug 4 '20 at 8:28
  • @MichaelHarvey I don't think that's true, Michael. I live in a village. I think you're thinking about directions, where we might say "to avoid London, turn around at Watford".
    – Astralbee
    Aug 4 '20 at 8:58
  • "After his return to England Govett lived at Tiverton, where he wrote several articles on New South Wales which were published in The Saturday Magazine" Aug 4 '20 at 9:11
  • @MichaelHarvey Good for him, but I definitely live in a village! I think when you're speaking about a place that is a locale of an area you are already in or speaking about, then it can be "at". From my perspective in Lancashire, I would say that someone lived "in Tiverton, Devon". But someone who lived in nearby Taunton, in Devon, may well say someone else lived "at Tiverton" like one might say "at the end of the road" or "at the other side of town".
    – Astralbee
    Aug 4 '20 at 9:21
  • I think the "at" usage for villages, hamlets, etc, is a little old-fashioned, but then so am I. Aug 4 '20 at 10:53

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