Let's say an employee was assigned to work in a particular district/city/country etc. Can we say that person was assigned "to" or "in" there? In the Oxford Dictionary, the definition of the usage I want to use is "to send a person to work under the authority of somebody or in a particular group". But my question is not about working in a group but working in a place like a city, country etc. where my workplace/army base etc. is. Let's say I am a public school teacher and I was sent to work at a school in a city or country called "XYZ", or maybe a neighborhood called "XYZ". Can I say either of these two sentences interchangeably?

I was assigned in XYZ.

I was assigned to XYZ.

Some other example sentences: *"I was assigned in/to Los Angeles", "I was assigned in/to Nigeria", "I was assigned in/to the Valley Neighborhood"

Are these okay with either "to" or "in", or do I have to specify the workplace instead of specifying where the work place is when I use "assign"?

  • 3
    Assign is usually followed with to. Oct 13, 2021 at 7:34
  • assigned in a place means that is where a person assigned you to another one to work.
    – Lambie
    Oct 25, 2021 at 15:04
  • @Lambie I don't understand what you mean, sorry. Can you explain more clearly? Oct 26, 2021 at 15:14
  • "I was assigned to the position [when I was] in Los Angeles". Oh really? "I was assigned in Las Vegas, not LA."
    – Lambie
    Oct 26, 2021 at 16:21
  • @Lambie What do you think about appoint in/at? Should we use "He was appointed to Los Angeles" instead of **"He was appointed in Los Angeles"? I probably should open another topic on "appoint." Oct 27, 2021 at 6:42

1 Answer 1


No, "assigned in" and "assigned to" are not interchangeable. "Assigned to" is idiomatic and "assigned in" is not.

As you say, when describing what you were assigned, you use the preposition to:

In Nigeria, I was assigned to the water-supply project.

And when describing where you were assigned, you also use to:

When I joined the Peace Corps I was assigned to Nigeria.

If it helps, you can think of it as being a sort of shortening of "assigned to working in Nigeria," with "working in Nigeria" describing what you were assigned to do rather than where you were assigned to do it.

It is also possible to omit the preposition and say you were simply assigned [noun]:

I was assigned mess-hall duty.

In this usage the noun is often "duty," "patrol," etc, but it can be just about anything: "I was assigned sweeping" is perfectly valid, though you could say "sweeping duty" as well.

As Lambie points out in the comments, if you really really want to do it, it is technically possible to use assigned in to specify the place where you were at the time you received the assignment:

I was assigned in New York to Nigeria.

But this is awkward and confusing phrasing, and rewriting it would be better:

In New York, I was assigned to Nigeria.
I was assigned to Nigeria when I got to New York.

Appoint works exactly the same as I have described assign above.

  • Can we just use "assign somebody" instead of "assign somebody to/as somebody" or "assign somebody to do something". For example like, "A new teacher was assigned." Do we have to specify what he/she was assigned to? According to Oxford, we can omit that, but other dictionaries don't mention that. Oct 26, 2021 at 9:32
  • 2
    That can work if there is sufficient context. For example: "We started the school year with Mrs. Smith, but a new teacher was assigned in October." Although "we were assigned a new teacher in October" sounds better.
    – randomhead
    Oct 26, 2021 at 15:37
  • 1
    "A teacher was assigned" is a very passive passive-voice clause; it doesn't say who assigned the teacher, nor what (or where) the teacher was assigned (you have to go back to the first part of the sentence for context). This is the kind of passive voice people talk about when they say that the passive voice should be avoided—it allows for twisted constructions like "A bullet was fired from the policeman's gun and a bystander was killed." In contrast, "We were assigned a teacher" is still passive voice, but there is more context bundled into the clause and it sounds less awkward.
    – randomhead
    Oct 26, 2021 at 16:29
  • 1
    Thanks. I have the same questions about "appoint," but I need to open another topic I guess. Oct 27, 2021 at 6:58
  • 1
    I was assigned in Los Angeles to New York. I was not assigned to New York in Las Vegas. I strove mightily to explain that and was rebuffed. :) Appoint or assign work exactly the same way.
    – Lambie
    Oct 27, 2021 at 17:05

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