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General Writing and Grammar Help/On the corner - in the corner - at the corner

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Question
Dear Ted:

Are there any differences among "ON the corner," "IN the corner," and "AT the corner"?

If so, when should I use each of them?

Would you please give me some examples?

As always, many, many thanks for your valuable help.

Paolo

Answer
Dear Paolo:

Are there any differences among "ON the corner," "IN the corner," and "AT the
corner"?

If so, when should I use each of them?

**** There is a difference.  ON and AT are very close in meaning, but IN is not the same as the other two.

EXAMPLES:

She was standing ON the corner of the major intersection.  [Think of her as standing right on the edge {curb} of the sidewalk.  She was standing AT the corner of the major intersection.  [It means the same as the first sentence.]

This usage is different:  AT the corner of the desk, someone had used a knife to carve his initials.  [The "AT" refers to where the different pieces of wood meet to make the side of the desk.  Think of this corner as the meeting place of two sections.]

She hit her head ON the corner of the desk.  [She did not hit her head AT this spot.  She hit her head ON it.]

AT the very corner of the desk, she hit her head ON a protruding shelf.  [Her head met the shelf; the shelf was located AT the corner of the desk.]

Paolo, there are so many variations of these two words and their uses.  I have given you just a few examples.

BUT . . . "IN the corner" is different.  You cannot hit your head IN a corner; you cannot meet someone IN a corner, like you can on a street.  IN suggests an enclosed place or a place that you must enter.  

EXAMPLE:  She was a very shy girl, so she liked to sit IN the corner of the room.

The surprise entertainer for the party was hidden IN the corner of the ballroom.

Not wanting to be seen or be bothered by other people, I quietly took a seat IN the last aisle of the meeting room.

I hope these examples help.

Ted

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Ted Nesbitt

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I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

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I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

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B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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