Tip: See my các mục of the
Most Common Mistakes in English. It will teach you how lớn avoid mis­takes with com­mas, pre­pos­i­tions, ir­reg­u­lar verbs, and much more.

Bạn đang xem: Which is correct: at school or in school?

There are no definitive guidelines khổng lồ the distinction between “at school” and “in school” because the terms are used in a different way in different English dialects (there are regional differences even among British and American dialects). The general trends are as follows:

American English

For the vast majority of Americans, “being in school” means “being a student”, & “being at school” means “currently being gone khổng lồ school”, just like we would say that we are “at work”:

he is still in school = he is still a studenthe is still at school = he still hasn’t come back from school today

Note, however, that Americans often use “school” in this context to lớn refer khổng lồ any kind of education (not just primary & secondary school), so someone studying in college could also be referred khổng lồ as being “in school”. The British, on the other hand, would likely say “at university”, and someone who is “in school” (in British English) has not started their studies at a university yet.

British English

“Being in school” means in principle the same as in American English, i.e. “being a pupil”, but it is more common to use “at school” in this context, which can mean either “being a student” or “currently being gone khổng lồ school”:

he is still in school = he is still a pupil (but usually not a university student)he is still at school = either he is still a pupil or he still hasn’t come back from school


Having considered all that has been said, I believe it is advisable for an English learner to lớn follow the “American” convention, i.e. Khổng lồ use “in school” for “being a student” and “at school” for physical presence at school. This will be universally understood in the US as well as in the UK, while the British convention might raise a few eyebrows in the US.

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However, it is better lớn avoid the American way of referring khổng lồ college students as being “in school” (there is nothing wrong with saying they are “in college” or “at university”), as this could lead lớn a misunderstanding among speakers of British English.

By the way, if you haven’t read my guide on how to avoid the most common mistakes in English, make sure to check it out; it đơn hàng with similar topics.

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