The research is not being carried out at the university


The research is not being carried out in the university.

I don't understand the difference between them. Could someone please help me with it?

  • 1
    Hi, could you show what you did to "understand the difference between them"? – Andrew Tobilko Apr 6 at 13:01

In the specific context (insofar as I can identify it) of your examples, there is little if any difference. Both would to be interpreted as referring to a particular university. And both assume the listener knows which particular university. And, again in this context, both would be taken as referring to that university as a whole, as opposed to a particular geographical point within. For my part, as a native speaker, I would tend to use the first, not the second, but that would be more style than substance.

However, freed from your specific context, there can be a difference. As above, both “in the university” and “at the university” would still tend to be interpreted as referring to a mutually-known particular university. But there can be a difference between the two in that “in” would often tend to be interpreted as meaning inside a building at the university, whereas “at” is more vague and could refer to anywhere in the university campus as a whole.

And for completeness, I’ll note that removing the article, “the”, changes things further. In contrast with the original versions, which refer to a specific university, both “in university” and “at university” might be interpreted as referring to universities as a whole, or to the abstract idea of a university. As a result, when “the” is omitted, the building versus campus distinction doesn’t exist between “in” an “at”.


Darn it, I think I left my wallet in the university. It’s either in chemistry lecture room B7, or in the cafeteria.

Instead of the movie theater, let’s meet at the university this week. How about outside the cafeteria, at 7pm?

I studied English at university, but quite honestly I think I’ve learned just as much about the language using ell.stackexchange.com.

When addressing a teacher, it is common, in university circles at least, to first bow or curtsy and then jump up on a table and cry out, “O Captain, my Captain!”

  • As a speaker of AmE, I can think of no situation where I would ever say ...in the university... I am not even sure how to understand it. I might say it as a part of a larger prepositional phrase such as ...in the university system... but that means in the system not in the university. I would never say I left something in the university and in university circles means in circles not in university. – EllieK Apr 6 at 14:33

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