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Which one is the correct preposition? gain knowledge in/at/through school.

If I use the verb acquire instead of gain,which preposition is correct?

4 Answers 4

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This may be cultural. As an AmE speaker, I would say "at", but I believe BrE speakers would say "in".

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Prepositions are tricky. When we are in school, we are also at school.

The phrase in school can mean in the school building, or in a school program. For example:

I can't go to the game tomorrow; I need to be in school.
Tony will be in medical school next year.

The phrase at school usually means somewhere on the school grounds, which could be in the building, or it could mean in the parking lot.

I was at school when I felt the earthquake.

So, you can learn in school, and you can learn at school. Both are used.

I wouldn't say, "I gained some knowledge through school," but I might say, "I gained that knowledge through my schooling (or through my training). That said, there's no single right way to express this; all of these can be used:

  • I learned how to dance in school.
  • I learned how to dance at school.
  • I learned how to dance during school.
  • I learned how to dance through my dance classes.
  • I learned how to dance by taking it in school.

These might have slightly different nuances; for example, I learned how to dance:

  • in school could mean you took a dance class
  • at school could mean you learned it from a friend during recess
  • during school could mean you learned it sometime between your freshman and senior year

Bottom Line: Sometimes learners seem to convince themselves that one preposition or the other must be correct, when in fact both can sound acceptable, natural, and even idiomatic.

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  • The trouble for learners is that sometimes one is correct. The rules are so damn persnickety. Would you be just as indifferent with I learned that in/at {grade/middle/high/graduate} school? :) Jan 5, 2016 at 22:59
  • @Stoney - Yes, I understand that. too! Sometimes, the options are plentiful, and sometimes there is no wiggle room at all. The longer I mull over these questions, the more amazed I am at this confounding language.
    – J.R.
    Jan 5, 2016 at 23:49
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I learned in school would be the usual phrase rather than, I gained knowledge in school which would seem a bit off for my Canadian English that can be a hybrid of American and British at times.

I acquired in school is a fine sentence while I acquired knowledge in school may seem a bit odd.

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We

gain knowledge at school
gain knowledge in school
gain knowledge through schooling

are all acceptable, the same with acquire

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