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Hi everybody,

Last week, I was checking my nephew's English homework and found one sentence he wrote:
"Bob is going to be at the farm in October."

After checking my dictionaries and the internet, I found "on" seemed to be more
appropriate and therefore changed it, which then earned a red cross on the sentence
and made me so guilty.

But ....

1) Cambridge dictionary says:
# It was hard work on the farm but satisfying.
# The fertilizers and pesticides used on many farms are polluting the water supply.
Source: Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary - Third Edition

2) Yahoo dictionary says:
# He works on a farm.
Source: http://www.EnglishForward.com#error

Besides, I googled "be on the farm" and "be at the farm" with Google UK and limited
the search results in the UK.

Then I got 121,000 and 54,800 pages for the two searches respectively, which means
"be on the farm" has been used at least twice more than "be at the farm" in the UK.

I particularly restricted the searches in the UK because I was afraid some usages
from non-native speakers would also be listed and bias the comparison.

To my surprise, after a careful discussion between his Taiwanese teacher and a white
teacher, they still decided to use "at" in this sentence.

May I ask, does this have anything to do with AE/BE?

Or is it simply required to use "at" in this sentence "Bob is going to be at the farm in October" ?

Many thanks for your comments and welcome responses directly sent to my email Email Removed" mce_href="mailto:Email Removed">Email Removed.
Hector
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Comments  
He was at the farm - he was staying there.

He was on the farm - he was working there.
This doesn't work everywhere for example on the office would be wrong. However you could be on the building site, on the help desk, on the computer, on the telephone and other that don't spring instantly to mind.
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Hi Dave,

Thanks for your concise and clarifying explanation.

I chose "on" because I always have deep trust in dictionaries and all
the examples they provide.

I could barely find an example of "at the farm" in all the dictionaries on hand.
So, it's not hard to guess why I took "on the farm" as the "correct" usage.

I am thankful that your clarification sheds new light on how to understand better
the collocation of "on/at the farm".

p.s. Prepositions can be quite confusing and remain a real pain for us (non-native speakers).

Many thanks again for EnglishForward and all the PTT buddies.
Hector
Hector,
When the context is in futrure tense as in "going to be...", "at" is typically the preposition used to denote the location or a place. i.e.
I plan to be at the wedding
John is going to be at the airport to pick up his parents.
She is going to be at the farm - meaning making her appearance.
She is going to be "on the farm" - seems to me lacking the finshing context. But if you say "she is going to be working on / at the farm (for the summer) ", it's perfectly fine.
It's hard to pin down, but I agree with the teacher. It's where he's going to be at a particular time.

You would never dream of saying, "I'm going to be on the farm until around nine this evening."

I agree that "working on the farm" is most natural. Somehow "I'll be working at the farm" has a temporary feeling to me.
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Can we also say 'at' the beach instead of 'on' the beach?
Yes, if you are thinking of the beach mainly as a location.
I think,working on the farm is like,You are doing the overall strategic work....like,planning or modifying the farm but working at the farm is doing the actual technical work in the farm ....like digging,planting,fencing etc
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