'Located In' or Located At': Which is Correct?

By Carly Forsaith, updated on November 10, 2022

Do you need clarification on the difference between 'located in' and 'located at'? This article will explain what these mean and how and when to use each one.

In short, the difference depends on which preposition is appropriate. 'In' suggests you are within the confines of a location with borders. 'At' is a bit vaguer and indicates a place that isn't confined.

What Is The Difference Between 'Located In' and 'Located At'?

Firstly we should define 'located.' It's the past participle of the verb 'to locate,' which means "to establish the location of." Essentially, if you're trying to locate something, it means you want to know where it is.

Let's look at some example sentences that use the verb 'locate.'

He's trying to locate his glasses; have you seen them?

You'll need to locate the source of the bleeding.

We shouldn't have any trouble locating her: I've tracked her phone.

Where is a cat's tongue located?

But what about the difference between 'located in' and 'located at?' As you can see, a different preposition is used in each case. Therefore, which one you use will depend on whether 'on' is the most appropriate preposition or 'at.'

'In' and 'at' are both prepositions of place (they're also prepositions of space, but that is a story for another day), but they are used for different purposes. Let's review the differences.

The Preposition 'in'

When you use the preposition 'in,' it usually refers to a location with borders. So the person/thing you're talking about is situated within the confines of a physical object or place.

Therefore you can use 'in' for things that have borders or limits, like countries, parks, boxes, or bags.

Here are some examples of locations that you could use with the preposition 'in':

  • Room of a hotel
  • A car
  • A city
  • My bag

The Preposition 'at'

'At' can be a little vaguer than 'in.' If you don't want to reveal your specific location, you could say that you are 'at home' instead of 'in your room.'

More generally, though, it's used to refer to locations that aren't confined and don't have borders. Here are some examples of places you can use 'at' with:

  • The end of the street
  • At school
  • At the bus stop
  • At the scene of a crime

Examples of 'Located In' and 'Located At' in a Sentence

Now let's look at some sentences that use these expressions.

A cat's tongue is located in its mouth.

My stolen phone has been located in a house on First Avenue.

The White House is located in Washington.

The bank is located at the entrance of the city.

The expiration date is located at the top of the jar.

The White House is located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

You might even see sentences that use both prepositions.

The bag I want is located in Selfridges, which is located at the mall.

Of course, you wouldn't usually repeat the word 'located' because it sounds a bit forced. You can say,

The bag I want is located in Selfridges at the mall.

Or even:

The bag I want is in Selfridges, which is located at the mall.

But I wanted to show you that having both prepositions in the same sentence is possible. And hopefully, this helps highlight the difference between the two even better.

Here's another similar example:

The science equipment is located in the lab, which is located at the school.

Again, it's preferable to say,

"The science equipment is located in the lab at school.",

but you get the picture.

When Can You Use 'Located In' or 'Located At'?

So when should you use each one? You can use it whenever you want to discuss something or someone's location.

Is It Commonly Used?

But the truth is, it's much more common to drop the participle 'located' and use the preposition, except in specific settings, usually formal ones like a crime scene, a scientific context, or an instruction manual.

In casual conversation, it would seem odd to say that you were "located at a party," for instance. You would just say that you are "at a party." The 'located' part is implied.

But you might hear it said in a crime movie, for example. The police officers might communicate over a walkie-talkie:

The suspect is located on the corner of 4th and Grand Avenue.

That's a more formal setting and sounds more professional.

How to Respond to the Question of Your Location

So what if someone asks you, "Where are you located?". That's when you could say that you are located at or in a place.

But because this is likely to be a more casual conversation, dropping the participle and answering that you're at or in a place would be better.

If someone asks you where you are, here are some possible answers:

  • I'm at the office.
  • I'm in my room
  • I'm at the comedy club.
  • I'm in class.

The Passive Voice

Another reason 'located in' and 'located at' are less popular than simply using 'in' or 'at' is because they use the passive voice. Using the active voice in English grammar is preferable, especially in writing.

Here's a sentence in the passive voice:

She's been located at her house.

Now here's the same sentence in an active voice:

She's at her house.

Other Prepositions You Can Use 'Located' With

'In' and 'at' are just some of the prepositions you can use with 'located.' In fact, you can use almost any other preposition, whether that be a preposition of time, place, or direction. Here are just a few:

  • Behind
  • Under
  • Near
  • Around
  • On

Let's have a look at some examples that use 'located' with these prepositions:

The lever is located behind the door.

Bird nests are often located under bridges.

Flying Fox bat populations are located near the rainforest.

McDonald's restaurants are located around the world.

The bank is located on West Street.

Concluding Thoughts About 'Located In' or 'Located At'

When dealing with these two expressions, the most important thing is to decipher which preposition is most appropriate for the context.

Using the participle 'located' is optional and preferably used in more formal conversations. You can just as easily use 'in' or 'at' without the participle.

We've covered a lot more confusing words in our blog, so check them out if you want to continue improving your English.

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Written By:
Carly Forsaith
Carly Forsaith is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. Carly is a copywriter who has been writing about the English language for over 3 years. Before that, she was a teacher in Thailand, helping people learn English as a second language. She is a total grammar nerd and spends her time spotting language errors on signs and on the internet.

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