My dad works at the Capital?


Could you please take a look at the following sentence from an American teenager – I’m a bit mystified as to what “Capital” might mean. Do you have any idea? Maybe it’s a typo and should read “Capitol”?

My works at the Capital with businesses and the environment.

Many thanks,

TOEIC listening, photographs: The Laboratory Screen[YSaerTTEW443543]

Hi Torsten

It’s quite possible that it is a typo or spelling error and that he means ‘Capitol’.

But it’s also theoretically possible that ‘the Capital’ is the name of a business or some other organization.

Capitol means the building in which state or national government resides.

Capital, among other things, means the city that is the seat of government.

So Washington, DC, is the capital of the United States, and the US Congress meets in the capitol.

So the teenager’s sentence was correct. It means that his or her father works in the capital (city) on business and environmental issues. The father works in the city of Washington, DC or in some state capital, such as Albany, NY, or Lansing, Michigan, but he probably does not work in the capitol (building).

There was one mistake, however, which was that “capital” should not have been spelled with a capital letter.

Hi Jamie

What’s your take on the fact that the teenager used ‘at’ rather than ‘in’? To me the use of ‘at’ indicates a building or a company/organization rather than a “capital city”. And if the person in fact works in Washington, DC at the Capitol, the capitalization would be correct.

It’s possible to use “at” with cities. Don’t universities always do it? “The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor”, “The University of California at Los Angeles”, etc.

Yes, you do usually use in when talking about someone being in the capital city by name (in Washington, in Lansing, etc.), but when just calling it “the capital”, it would sound distinctly odd to say, “My father works in the capital in an office building.” To me it would be more natural to use “at the capital” so as not to repeat the preposition.

I think that, either way, at or in would create confusion as to whether the person meant the city or the building, but at is certainly possible when talking about the city.

Hi Torsten

I guess you’ll just have to ask the teenager what he meant. :wink: