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There were many girls au naturel at Normandy...

Does this mean on the beach of Normandy?

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    It would typically be written "in Normandy". – Mark Pattison Jun 12 '14 at 12:39
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    Without more context it is impossible to say. There are other venues than beaches where naked girls may be encountered, such as saunas, strip clubs, naturist resorts, life classes, and nude bicycle races. – StoneyB Jun 12 '14 at 13:08
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Nathan answered for the second time while I was typing. I will delete most of my comment and only add that it is much more common to say 'in Normandy' (or any other geographical region) rather than 'at Normandy'.

  • This is correct, unless it is referring to some specific precise location called Normandy (e.g. a specific beach). If it's referring to the French region, it should be "in". – Mark Pattison Jun 12 '14 at 12:50
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You are in a country, in a city, in a state, in a house. You live on a street, avenue, road, or whatever. And finally, you live at an address. Then, you are at a museum, at Coney Island, or at some other location. Now, you could also be on the beach at Coney Island, or at Coney Island Beach if there is a place of that name.

At the beach, again, is always a particular location. If you're "at the beach" it means that the actual location is understood. On the beach is standing on the sand by the water. Look at these:

Where is Joe?
At the beach.
Which beach? Waikiki.

This suggests that Joe is missing from the house, perhaps, because he has gone to the beach. The answerer assumes that the questioner knows which beach. The questioner doesn't, so he asks, and gets the answer.

Where is Joe?
On the beach.

This suggests that Joe is perhaps at a resort that has a beach as part of its property, and he has gone to the beach.

So yes, you can probably say "at Normandy" to mean "at the beach in Normandy." However, there isn't a "Normandy Beach" per se, rather there's a number of beaches (Omaha, Juno, etc.) in Normandy. You'd be more likely to say that someone was at one of those.

Now, if you were on Omaha beach on June 6, 1945, you were in the Normandy Invasion. The reason you would be more likely to use on here is because of the larger context of the invasion. This becomes easier to understand if you break it down like this:

Where were you during the Normandy Invasion?
On Omaha beach.

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Seems I misunderstood what you were asking.

It means 'at Normandy', as it states in the sentence. It could certainly be better written as 'on Normandy', only if that's the context (the relation to the beach, as far as I can see, is implied, not explicit). We know it's referring to Normandy the place as it's presented as a proper noun, and wouldn't make sense otherwise.

The usage of at though is completely standard (preposition), [something] at [location]. So even if it were changed to 'on' its function would remain the same in the sentence.

So "Does this mean on the beach of Normandy?"

Probably.

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