A question about live + preposition

There was this exercise about prepositions which I’ll repost below. The question I have is, is there some kind of rule for knowing which preposition to use in this case? Which would be the correct answer, and would there be a definite reason for each usage or is it just getting used to them?


Nick lives _____ a farm, but I live _____ San Francisco, and most of my relatives live ____ a small village near Santa Monica.

A) at – at – at
B) on – at – on
C) in – in – in
D) on – in – at

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How about you first try to solve the task and then we’ll give our feedback?

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I’d say the first is ON because it sounds better.
The second would be IN because I guess people use IN for cities.
But that makes the answer D and the last being AT, but since I used IN for cities I’d be inclined to use In for the third as well.

The one I’m most sure is the second, I really think people use In for cities.

I’d put D but I was using some aspects like sounding better, which isn’t very trustworthy.

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You are right, ‘on a farm’ is the most likely option since we usually use ‘on’ when describing something on a surface rather than inside a building or place.

We also say ‘in San Francisco’ and ‘in a small village’ although to me ‘small village’ is almost a tautology because in the English speaking world a village is already small. I don’t know where you got this exercise from because it’s rather strange. If I were you I would use these exercises:

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Nick lives on a farm, but I live in San Francisco, and most of my relatives live at a small village near Santa Monica.

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Hi Lawrence, I don’t think there are any ‘small villages’ near Santa Monica and I also don’t think ‘at a small village’ is idiomatic English. Also, I think no native speaker would every say ‘I live in a small village’ let alone ‘I live at a small village’.

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Torsten, if the village is geographically ‘locatable’ (so to say), we use ‘at’, and if it is a vast area not being identifiable, we use ‘in’.

Further, we know that it is always ‘on a farm’. If so, we have these two options: (B) on – at – on and (D) on – in – at.

Then, naturally, we have got to go for the option ‘on a village’ which is unacceptable for it does not make good grammatical or semantic sense.

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No, we don’t say ‘I live at a village’ but ‘I live in a village’ as you can see below.

Also, why would you call ‘a vast area’ a ‘a small village’? Doesn’t make any sense.

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Torsten, there are villages with, say, about 20-25 families, living together in clusters, in the interior parts where the area of a village is so small that it is easily identifiable. You have to travel farther if you want to see another village.

As regards a normal village extending to a vast area, we say ‘they live in a village far away from the town’. (So, I don’t disagree with your contention)

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@Torsten I agree with you 100%. It is … on a farm, in San Francisco, in a small village. :+1:

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Hi Andrea, good to see we are on the same page :wink:

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Yep!! :wink: I think the multiple choice options are misleading. Perhaps someone made a mistake with the correct option. :roll_eyes:

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Evern if the preposition was correct, I don’t think any American would say that they ‘live in a small village’.

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@Torsten I would still go with ‘live in a small village’. It is the only option I think and seems natural to say.

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For me when talking about where you live I would use ‘in’ for village, city, town or whatever regardless of the size of the location simply because you are ‘inside’ the place. ‘At’ is more associated with position within a location where you reside. You live in a house in the village at the corner of Bridge Road, at junction 34 of the motorway. We stopped to admire the gardens at a beauty spot in the village.

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I agree with and here is what I mean:

Quote from StackExchange:
As others have explained, the term ‘village’ is used in the US as a technical designation, a governmental-legalistic denomination.

But hardly anywhere in the US would someone use the term ‘village’ as a generic term for a very small settlement. That is, there is the official usage ‘the village of East Davenport, Iowa’, but never, ever, would someone say ‘I live in a village outside of the main town’. In that sense, no one would describe or refer to where they live as ‘a village’. Americans would use the term for a place in another country, but not for anywhere in the US.

‘You live in a village’ is not particularly derogatory, it just sounds weird if talking about some place in the US.

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@Torsten I understand. However, if you’re not talking about the US…then you’ll find villages in other countries. You’ll definitely find villages in Africa :wink:

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I also found this example from a website. It is slightly different but there are 5 options for the answer.

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And I’ve found tihs:

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That’s cool! So true too!

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