Participate TO, IN, Or AT: Here’s The Difference (+10 EXAMPLES)

Prepositions come in all shapes and sizes after words, and sometimes they change the meaning entirely. One such example is participate to, in, at, or something else. What is the correct preposition for the correct tone, and are there any important rules to follow?

Should I Use Participate To, Participate In, Or Participate At?

You should use “participate to” in no situations. It is incorrect grammatically, and no native speakers use this preposition after “participate.” You should use “participate in” when talking about participating in an event or an activity. Generally, the person is “inside” the thing. You should use “participate at” when talking about participating at a certain level.

Generally, the phrase “participate in” is used the most and makes the most grammatical sense. If you’re “participating” in something, no matter what it is, you’re always “in” something, which is why the preposition “in” makes the most sense to include after the word.

When Should I Use Participate To?

The phrase “participate to” is grammatically incorrect. If you’re using it as a standalone phrase and trying to announce that you’re “participating,” then you’ll find that you can’t make any sentences from it. However, there are chances to see “participate to” written in a sentence, though it’s only ever when a secondary clause is used straight after the word “participate.”

In those cases, “participate” doesn’t have a preposition following it that changes the meaning. It instead is just a happy accident that comes with the language.

5 Examples Of How To Use Participate To

As we’ve stated, you’ll never see “participate to” used in any form that makes sense on its own. It’s only possible to come across it in strict sentence scenarios where the word “to” directly follows “participate.”

  • I want to participate to help out.
  • We would love to participate to help you.
  • We participate to make sure nothing goes wrong.
  • You participate to watch me, don’t you?
  • She participates to feel wanted.

In each of these cases, the subject is merely “participating” in something. However, the word “to” conveniently follows “participate,” and a verb will follow that. This is the only sentence structure that will ever include “participate to.”

When Should I Use Participate In?

Now we get to the most common usage of a preposition with “participate.” “Participate in” is by far the most acceptable and grammatically correct variation of the phrase. It’s the most common one you’ll come across when talking or writing with native speakers. It’s also possible to say “participate in” instead of “participate at” in most cases, too, though you can say either, depending on the context.

“Participate in” should be used when you’re talking about being involved in something. The exact criteria aren’t important, because it varies so widely. You can participate in events, activities, school lessons, work trips, or just about anything else. As long as you are attending that thing willingly, then you are “participating in” it.

5 Examples Of How To Use Participate In

Let’s look at five examples of how to use “participate in” in a sentence then. We use examples to further our knowledge of the English language, as it helps to see words and phrases used in sentences to understand them a bit better. If you’re not quite wrapping your head around the differences between the “participate” phrases, then you should notice these examples do a great job of helping you gain some clarity!

  • I want to participate in this game.
  • We should all participate in the event.
  • Everyone must participate in the meeting.
  • You all need to participate in this one, or we can’t make it.
  • I participate in as many sports as possible.

You’ll see in each of these cases that it’s not the most specific phrase out there! You can say just about anything after “participate in” as long as you (or someone else) are taking part in the thing.

When Should I Use Participate At?

Finally, we’ll look at “participate at” as a preposition that follows “participate.” It’s not the most common way to write it and is very specific in the cases that you can use it. However, it’s still worth looking into a little deeper so you know when you can differentiate between the two. You’ll mostly use “participate at” when talking about participation relative to a certain level.

That’s why it’s so specific since you’ll only ever refer to levels in the case of “participate at.” It’s most common for focus groups or test subjects to “participate at” something because a level would already have been set up for them to “participate at.”

5 Examples Of How To Use Participate At

If that was all a bit confusing, don’t worry. We’ve got some examples to show you exactly what we mean! Hopefully, we’ll be able to clear up any issues you might have had, and you’ll see exactly how we plan on using “participate at” in any sentence. Remember, though, this is a particular way to write “participate” with a preposition, so many of these examples will look the same.

  • They participate at the highest level.
  • We participate at the one-hundredth level.
  • They say we participate at the ninetieth percentile.
  • I participate at the one-thousand dollar mark.
  • She participates at the lower levels.

Which Other Prepositions Can Be Used With “Participate”?

Finally, let’s touch on some other prepositions that we use with “participate.” These are tested to be grammatically incorrect (and therefore are all more common than “participate to”).


When you’re talking about participating with another person or thing, you will use “participate with.” You’ll only ever see this phrase in the case of someone else being present.

  • I want to participate with you.
  • Sarah participates with me.


If you’re going through an organization or a company, you will use “participate through” instead to get your point across. This will only work if you have something to represent you to “participate through” them.

  • I participate through the governor’s association at my son’s school.
  • We participate through the bank.