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For me, "at school" and "in school" can both refer to the fact that someone
is attending/giving lessons there at the very moment; "in school" then has
the additional meaning of "in habitual attendance at school, a student".
Also re: David's university example, well, universities are a smaller scale
than cities, so it's probably the same point. (:

Eugene

2009/5/31 Gary Shannon <[log in to unmask]>

> On Sun, May 31, 2009 at 5:41 AM, Jim Henry <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> > On Sat, May 30, 2009 at 2:10 PM, Eldin Raigmore
> ...
> > On the other hand, the distinction between "at the
> > hospital" and "in the hospital" is different.
> ...
>
> Another example is "school", especially the distinctions implied by
> the presence or absence of the article:
>
> "He's at school." - (at the present moment, attending as a student,
> staff, or faculty)
> "He's at the school." - (as a visitor)
> "He's in school." - (habitually attending as a student, but possibly
> not there at the present moment. Probably not said of staff or
> faculty.)
> "He's in the school." - (inside the school building)
>
> -gary
>