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Participate IN & Participate AT
Posted: Sun Mar 02, 2008 3:09 pm
I came across something that has never crossed my mind until now. We normally use participate IN (something), but can we say/use participate at in certain contexts such as:
You can participate at this level ...., Agassi participated at Wimbledon..., etc.?
At first thought I want to say no, but looking at, for example, You can participate at this level, I'd say yes to participate at.
Any thoughts out there?
Posted: Sun Mar 02, 2008 4:36 pm
For me, Agassi participated in Wimbledon = he participated in the competition we usually refer to as "Wimbledon", while Agassi participated at Wimbledon = he participated in something that was taking place in a place called Wimbledon - probably the tennis competition (as we know he's a tennis player and there's an important competition there) but it could be a fancy dress competition that happens to be taking place at Winbledon.
In ...at this level, this level refers to something which we conceive as spatial (even though technically it isn't) hence the use of at. That's why ..participate at this level is OK, but ...*participate at the FA Cup sounds odd.
Another example: Wolverhampton Wanderers played in the FA Cup Final vs Wolverhampton Wanderers played at Wembley Stadium (I wish!) refer to the same event, but one tells us what match they played, the other tells us where.. Your Wimbledon example is only ambiguous as the word can refer to the place or the competition.
Maybe you should think of the preposition as going with the complement and not the verb.
Posted: Sun Mar 02, 2008 5:20 pm
lolwhites has it perfectly right as far as I am concerned.
You could use "participate at Wimbledon" in the following context but note that the meaning of Wimbledon is the place and NOT the tournament.
Aggasi no longer participates in international tournaments. He participated at Roland Garos and Wimbledon but he won't participate at Flushing Meadow.
The above paragraph is very forced but it is just to give an example.
Posted: Sun Mar 16, 2008 7:00 pm
I think that point revolves around the fact that the verb in the example is the intransitive "participate", as in "We were unable to participate." You could follow that with an independant prepostion / noun phrase: "at that level", "on the grounds that", "in contrast with", "under the supervision of", "with the approval of" etc.