“At the Meeting” or “In the Meeting”: Know the Difference

Should it be “at the meeting” or “in the meeting”? Is it “as discussed at the meeting or in the meeting”? Which is correct?

Short answer: both. Long answer: depends on the context.

Read on as we explore the intricacies of prepositions and help you uncover the right way to describe your meeting experiences.

Explained: at the meeting or in the meeting

Using “at” and “in” to describe a meeting can be confusing.

At the meeting: when to use

When referring to a specific location, “at the meeting” is the way to go. It tells everyone that you were physically present, participating in the meeting in person.

At the meeting: examples

Example 1: If someone asks where you are, you could reply: “I’m at the meeting.” In this context, the meeting becomes the location, and the preposition “at” is used.

Example 2: “I met my business partner for the first time at the meeting yesterday.” In this sentence, “at the meeting” implies the physical location where the meeting took place and where the speaker met their business partner for the first time.

At the Meeting or In the Meeting

Example 3: “My boss asked me to present my project proposal at the meeting.” In this sentence, “at the meeting” refers to where the speaker will present their project proposal to their boss and colleagues.

In the meeting: when to use

When referring to the activity of a meeting, “in the meeting” is your go-to preposition. In this case, you refer to the meeting as an activity or experience, regardless of location.

In the meeting: examples

Example 1: “I can’t check my phone right now; I’m in a meeting.” In this sentence, “in a meeting” refers to the speaker participating in a meeting, not the meeting’s physical location.

Example 2: “I’m sorry, I can’t come to the phone right now. I’m in a meeting with the team to discuss the budget.” In this sentence, the speaker emphasizes that they are actively participating in a meeting and cannot take a phone call at the moment. The phrase “in the meeting” conveys the idea of being involved in an activity rather than just being in the same location as the meeting.

Example 3: “I was in the meeting and couldn’t take notes.” In this sentence, the preposition “in” is being used to describe the activity of the meeting—that you were participating in and couldn’t perform a secondary task like taking notes.


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The location rule exception

These examples are relatively easy to understand. So, why the age-old conundrum: “in the meeting” or “at the meeting?” Confusion usually arises due to the location rule exception.

When you refer to a location within a larger location, the preposition rules change. It’s no longer “at” but “in.” Let’s break it down with a few examples:

Let’s say you’re in an office with all your co-workers, and everyone is under the same roof. In this case, you would say: “I’m in the meeting.” That’s because your audience is already aware of the existence of the meeting and knows its location within the building.

Okay, let’s take a step away from meetings. Let’s say you’re searching for your keys with someone in your house. You could reply: “I think I left my keys in the living room.” Here, the preposition “in” is used because you’re specifying your keys’ location within your house’s larger location.

In the meeting vs at the meeting exception

Mastering Meeting Prepositions: Short Quiz

Think you’ve got a handle on “at the meeting” vs. “in the meeting”? Put your grammar skills to the test with this fun fill-in-the-blank quiz!

Question 1: “Please send me the presentation before the meeting. I need to review it before I present it _____ the meeting.”

Question 2: John, can you please share your thoughts on the project? We’re all _____ the meeting waiting for your input.

Question 3: I had a great conversation with Jane _____ the meeting yesterday. She has some exciting ideas.

Question 4: I couldn’t hear what was said because there was too much background noise _____ the meeting.

Wrapping up

In conclusion, choosing the correct preposition between “at” and “in” can significantly impact workplace communication and help you sound more professional. Remember that “at” conveys a location, and “in” conveys an activity.

And just for fun, see if you got the answers right:

  • Question 1: at the meeting
  • Question 2: in the meeting
  • Question 3: at the meeting
  • Question 4: in the meeting

Over to you now!

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