Please read the following sentence

  1. He is in Mclean High school.
  2. He was in McLean High School.

If we convert them into questions then

  1. Is he in Mclean High School?
  2. Was he in McLean High School?

Same question adding the question word 'which'

  1. Which school is he in?
  2. Which school was he in?

But I suppose that's not the way native Americans ask these questions but they ask like

  1. Which school does he go to?
  2. Which school did he go to?

What is the difference in 'which' questions and is it ok to ask someone 'Which school were you in?'

3 Answers 3


Which school are you in? Which school were in?

Which school are you at? Which school were you at? (BE)

Although these sentences are grammatically correct, they are not common in use.

Instead, the following sentences are usually used:

Which school do you go to? Which school did you go to? Where do you go to school? Where did you go to school?

We can also say: Which school do you attend? Which school did you attend? But these sentences are a bit formal.


The nuance lies is asking whether someone currently regularly goes to a school or merely the presence.

He is in school - he is present in the school


He goes to school - a regular activity to take education

But then, if you are asking an adult, it's completely fine in an informal talking ...

Which school you were in? ~ I was in St. Joseph, and you?

Because if you say, I went to St. Joseph's School, though not in this context, but it'd also mean you visited the school as in I went to New York City.

So again, to repeat, use in if you simply want to ask for the presence and use go if you want to ask the regular going (which happens in most of the cases) and the scene is current.

  • 2
    I went to X School" would normally mean "I attended X School as a student" in BrE. It would mean I visited X School only in certain very clear context such as As a representative for a publishing firm, I go to lots of educational establishments. Yesterday I went to X School ....
    – tunny
    Nov 21, 2014 at 9:15
  • a little also works there, what say? @tunny
    – Maulik V
    Nov 21, 2014 at 9:26
  • 1
    @MaulikV - I can't recall having heard or read a question like 'Which school were you in ?' That's what i was not sure of.- Do you have any reference that you might provide regardiing this ?
    – Leo
    Nov 21, 2014 at 18:26
  • 2
    @Leo - I agree, "Which school were you in?" is not the usual way to ask where someone went to school. Something like, "Where did you go to school?" would usually sound more natural. That said, "Which school were you in?" isn't ungrammatical, and I suppose there are some contexts where it might sound okay. Suppose a township had three elementary schools, and three high schoolers in that district were reminiscing. One might say, "I was in Hamilton; which school were you in?"
    – J.R.
    Nov 22, 2014 at 12:17

In most situations, I'd ask, "Which school did you attend?" If you know the speaker attended a campus that included several schools, you'd be more likely to ask, "Which school were you in?"

  • Another possibility just now occurred to me. If it's implied that the other person was inside the boundaries of a campus or inside a school building, the more pertinent question would be "Which school were you in?"
    – JimM
    Nov 22, 2014 at 15:50

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