Gransnet forums

Pedants' corner

at Lymington.

(23 Posts)
Teetime Tue 24-Jul-18 08:34:22

In a novel I am reading the author says someone lives 'at Lymington' not 'in Lymington' which is correct please?

Luckygirl Tue 24-Jul-18 08:35:23


Bathsheba Tue 24-Jul-18 08:49:30

Yes, either, although 'in Lymington' is in more common usage. We tend to say "I live in Lymington, in Spencer Road, at number 29". Strange isn't it? Because surely it would be more appropriate to say "I live in number 29".

winterwhite Tue 24-Jul-18 08:52:41

We aren’t allowed to say anything is incorrect these days, grin but i think ‘at Lymington’ is unidiomatic in the sentence as quoted. No one would say that X lived at London, or at Paris, surely, but may depend oddly on the size of the place?? One of those niggly things that annoy when reading.

MawBroon Tue 24-Jul-18 09:00:25

It could be archaic. The Victorians and Edwardians (and earlier) used to use “at” so it may depend on when your book was written.
Who is the author?

pollyperkins Tue 24-Jul-18 09:12:29

I agree 'at' is usually used for name /number of actual building eg I l8ve at No 40 or at Rose cottage or at Buckingham Palace or at the museum/at the office/at tge greengrocer's. Otherwise we tend to use 'in' eg in London, in the village etc, in the countryside etc.
English is a very difficult language in some ways. I used to teach English as a second language to foreign students. They couldn't understand why you got into a car but onto a bus/train. I said it's because you have to climb up. So do you get onto a lorry they asked. No we get into it I think!
Likewise why are all garments with legs plural eg trousers, shorts, tights, culottes etc (usually singular in other languages eg un jean in French). Because tgey have 2 legs I say. But a shirt has 2 arms they reply. We also say scissors (spectacles) , glasses, tongs, shears,tweezers etc for a single item with two blades/arms We are so used to it we don't notice but confusing for foreigners.

pollyperkins Tue 24-Jul-18 09:26:50

Sorry, got a bit carried away and off topic there! Ive been thinking about this. You might say 'There' s an interesting church at x village' mightn't you?

Teetime Tue 24-Jul-18 09:30:59

Its Joanna Trollope- she does get a bit exact at times. Thank you for answering.

MawBroon Tue 24-Jul-18 09:40:58

Then I think she is being pedantic or it is an elderly character in her book unless it is of her historical novels.

pollyperkins Tue 24-Jul-18 09:43:46

Ah yes, she uses some unusual constructions I seem to remember. Part of her style. It's not exactly wrong as far as I know, just not common usage.

Scribbles Tue 24-Jul-18 10:15:34

Maybe winterwhite is correct when she suggests it's something to do with size. I hadn't considered it until now but I used to say that I lived in Ilford. Now that I've moved to a much smaller town, I say that I live at xxxxxxxxxx xxxx. No idea how this came about; there was no conscious effort on my part.

MamaCaz Tue 24-Jul-18 10:49:25

The size aspect makes sense to me, too. 'At' sounds just as natural / correct to me as 'in' if the place is village or a small town.
No, 'at' doesn't sound right with bigger places. Thinking about this, could this be because the names of bigger towns and cities frequently also refer to a whole region (with many villages or small towns within it), and off the top of my head, I can't think of any regions where 'at' would be the correct preposition. I'm not sure that I have explained myself very well, but hope that makes some sense.

pollyperkins Tue 24-Jul-18 13:26:12

Yes you wouldn't say : She lives at London , or Birmingham, but you might say: she lives at Sevenoaks, for example.

grandtanteJE65 Fri 27-Jul-18 13:16:51

Polly, yes in French trousers and so on are singular, but they are definitely not in Danish, Dutch and German which like English talks of a pair of anything that you insert your legs or hands into.

Hebrew, both ancient and modern, has singular, dualis and plural, and if I remember correctly Classical Greek does too, which is probably why we talk about a pair of glasses, (spectacles), gloves, shoes, trousers, pants etc.

To me staying at a place as opposed to staying in it, means you are on a visit, rather than living there permanently, but this is probably Scottish usage.

Elegran Fri 27-Jul-18 13:38:24

Garments for legs did used to be two separate parts, once upon a time.

pollyperkins Fri 27-Jul-18 14:21:19

This is an interesting thread!

Elrel Sat 04-Aug-18 18:07:18

Pollyperkins - is it smaller settlements? I'm thinking of relatives' North Shropshire homes I visited as a child. In Shrewsbury, Wellington or Wem, but at Welshampton, Oswestry or Ellesmere all stir memories and somehow feel right.

MawBroon Sat 04-Aug-18 18:09:01

Sorry Grandetante But “eine Hose” is also singular in German.

MawBroon Sat 04-Aug-18 18:10:11

“staying” is also very commonly used in Scotland to mean “living”i.e. residing.

Grandma70s Sat 04-Aug-18 18:29:19

My grandfather came from Lymington, and he definitely lived IN Lymington.😀

Jane10 Sat 04-Aug-18 18:42:19

Our South African relatives call swimming trunks 'a Speedo'!

Elegran Sat 04-Aug-18 19:46:31

Maybe if she lives near Lymington, she is living "at" not "in"?

grandtanteJE65 Sun 05-Aug-18 11:35:43

Oops, yes of course die Hose is singular! What was I thinking?