Since the phrases “in the house” and “at the house” are both used to describe the location of an object or a person with respect to the house, does it follow that they have the same meaning, and can one replace the other?
“At the House” or “In the House” – Which Is Correct?
Both “at the house” and “in the house” are grammatically correct, but the preposition depends on the location of the thing or person spoken about. Referring to something near, in or outside the house, the correct preposition is “at”, whereas “in” refers exclusively to something inside the house.
When talking about someone or something inside the house, the phrases “at the house” and “in the house” can be used interchangeably. However, anything around or beside the house cannot be described as “in the house”.
The phrase “at the house” can also be replaced by other expressions, such as “outside the house”, “by the house” and “in front of the house”, which each have a more specific meaning.
At the House
The expression “at the house” is a general location and the object or person spoken of can be inside the building of the house, in the garden, or nearby. Because “at the house” is vague, it is often replaced by more specific phrases, such as “outside the house”.
Here are a few examples of how to use “at the house” in a sentence:
- She agreed to meet the estate agent at the house, so that she could park in the front driveway, and he could open the door for her.
- They left their car at their house in the country and walked the remaining five hundred metres to the lake.
- A group of us are going to the cinema on Friday evening; we will all meet at our house first, then travel together into town.
- Even though he left home years ago, he still leaves some clothes and a toothbrush at his parents’ house.
- I won’t be at home on Friday afternoon, but there should be someone at the house to receive the delivery of the parcel.
- Turn left at the house with the large blue gate, then continue along the road until you come to a roundabout.
- The wedding will take place at the church on the main road, and afterwards there will be a reception for all the guests back at the house.
In the House
“In the house” is the correct way to refer to anything in the interior of the building. It does not include the garden or the exterior of the building. It is often used to compare to anything outside the building, so that “in the house” contrasts with “outside the house”.
Here are some examples of how to use “in the house” in a sentence:
- If it rains on Saturday, we will have to host the garden party in the house.
- The lady lives with her husband and her two children in the house on the corner of the street.
- If our neighbours are not at home tomorrow, we can hold the band practice in our house.
- The family used to live on a farm, but now they live in the city and keep a collection of dogs and chickens in their house!
- Last summer was so cold and wet that we had to spend nearly every day in the house.
- The plant doesn’t need much water and so it can be left in the house when you go away on holiday.
- Even when we have special guests, I will not permit smoking in my house.
Which Is Used The Most?
Since we have many other phrases, such as “around the house” or “behind the house” that can be used in place of “at the house”, it makes sense that this phrase is used less often than the phrase “in the house”, which has a much more specific meaning.
This is reflected in the statistics reported by Google Ngram Viewer.
These clearly show that the phrase “in the house” is used much more frequently than “at the house”.
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.