At y to, las preposiciones en inglés, parte 1

…English Prepositions: 

At and to, part 1

Too often I hear errors with at and to when talking with Bogotanos.  We’re going to  try to help fix these errors with this first post on prepositions at and to. We’ll break it down from the easy to the hard.

EASY DIFFICULTY

We are meeting at the transmillenium station.

We are meeting at the transmillenium station.

The preposition at is used to show a specific position or direction. To is used to show movement.

  • I met her at the transmillenium station. (Position, a specific place)
  • She was at her parents’ house.  (Position, a specific place)
  • We are going to the transmillenium station. (Movement in the direction of the tranmuylleno station)
  • I am going to Medellín to see him. (Movement in the direction of Medellín)
Your turn!
The conversation club is ___ Authors Bookstore and Cafe.
Yes, I will go ____ the conversation club.
I meet friends ___ Juan Valdez.
Sometimes I like to fly ___ Cartagena. Then go ___ Tayrona.
Can’t talk now! I’m running ___ Juan Valdez.
Answers
Fly to Caratagena

Fly to Caratagena

The conversation club is at Authors Bookstore and Cafe.
Yes, I will go to the conversation club.
I meet friends at Juan Valdez.

Sometimes I like to fly to Cartagena. Then go to Tayrona.

Can’t talk now! I’m running to Juan Valdez.

MEDIUM DIFFICULTY

At can be used with some common verbs related to our hands and eyes. Examples are: look, smile, wink, stare, wave, frown, point etc. We use at because the the perception is directed at a position.

  • The girl smiled at me. (She directs her smile at me)
  • Why are you looking at her like that? (You direct your look at her)
  • She waved at me. (She directed her wave at me)
When I arrived at the cafe, Juan Valdez smiled at me!

When I arrived at the cafe, Juan Valdez smiled at me!

At is also used after action verbs like shoot, laugh, throw, arrive, excel, succeed,  and shout to indicate the direction of the action.

  • The girl laughed at the clown. (The girl directs her laugh at the clown.)
  • Don’t throw stones at the cat. (Do not direct your throw at the cat)
  • Why are you shouting at me? (Why are you shouting toward me?)
Your turn!
The child pointed ___  Montserrate.
The cat looked ____ the empty food bowl.
The shopkeeper stared ____ the blond foreigner.
The boy winked ____ the girl.
We arrived ____ the conversation club and smiled ___ all the people.
Answers
Nelson laughs at someone.

Nelson points and laughs at someone.

The child pointed at  Montserrate.
The cat looked at the empty food bowl.
The shopkeeper stared at the blond foreigner.
The boy winked at the girl.
We arrived at the conversation club and smiled at all the people.
Part 2 will have some of the trickier uses of to and at.

Where are you at with your English? Want to get to a new level? Think about personalized classes with Bogota Business English.

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