At and in are generally used for position; to is used for movement or direction.
|– He works at the market.
He gets to the market by bike.
|– My father lives in Canada.
I go to Canada to see him whenever I can.
Expressions of purpose
If we mention the purpose of a movement before we mention the destination, we usually use at! in before the place.
- Let’s go to Marcel’s for coffee.
- Let’s go and have coffee at Marcel’s. (NOT Let’s go and have coffee to Marcel’s.)
- I went to Canada to see my father.
- I went to see my father in Canada. (NOTI went to see my father to Canada.)
After some verbs, at is used with the ‘target’ of a perception or non-verbal
communication. Common examples are look, smile, wave, frown.
- Why are you looking at her like that?
- Because she smiled at me.
At is also used after some verbs referring to attacks or aggressive behavior. Common examples are shoot, laugh, throw, shout and point.
- It’s a strange feeling to have somebody shoot at you.
- If you can’t laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?
- Stop throwing stones at the cat, darling.
- You don’t need to shout at me.
- In my dream, everybody was pointing at me and laughing.
Throw to, shout to and point to are used when there is no idea of attack.
- Please do not throw food to the animals.
- Could you shout to Phi! and tell him it’s breakfast time?
- ‘The train’s late again,’ she said, pointing to the timetable.
Arrive is generally followed by at or in; never by to.
- We should arrive at Pat’s in time for lunch. (NOT …
arrive to Pat’s… )
- When did you arrive in New Zealand? (NOT …
to New Zealand?)
Look next page for at, on and in: place