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Preposition “at” and noun combinations

Hi there, Andrew here again for another episode of the Art of Business English. Today I want to share with you some preposition and word combinations that use the preposition AT. These combinations will make a great addition to your vocabulary and of course they will help you to be more descriptive, as well as better understand us natives.

This week I have divided the episode into four main parts. We will be looking at the following:

  1. What are prepositions + word combinations
  2. A list of some common combinations with “at”
  3. The translation for these combinations
  4. Some sample sentences in use

Ok, let’s get started by looking at what are prepositions and word combinations 

Prepositions + noun combinations

As will become apparent, these structures lead with a preposition and are then followed by a noun. It’s a simple as that. Most people are more familiar with phrasal verbs, dependent prepositions and verbs followed by prepositions. This seems to be the most common focus, however, preposition + noun combinations are also very important.

I have done many episodes on collocations and dependent prepositions; however, we need to also look at the flip side of these.

As with collocations and phrasal verbs the meaning doesn’t really hold if we separate these two elements. Let me demonstrate with an example. Let’s take the preposition + noun example of “At once”. Together this means, immediately. So, if I say to you, I want you to come to my office at once, then I am telling you to come to my office now and to not wait a minute longer.

If we split these two, then alone they have different meaning. At, is a preposition of place and once, is an adverbial time expression. Put them together and they take on new meaning. Reverse the order of the words, once at, and they don’t make sense.

So, as you can see, preposition + noun combinations are very important to know, learn and understand.

Let’s take a look at a bunch of those that start with “at”.

Preposition + noun combinations with “at”

Firstly, I will give you the list of collocations then we will look at their meaning. So, let’s start with our review of the preposition “at” + noun.

At dawnAl rayer el alba/al amanecer
At a distance A distancia
At firstAl principio
At first sightA primera vista
At a glanceDe un vistazo/a simple vista
At a guessAproximadamente
At gunpointA punta de pistola
At homeEn casa
At a later dateEn un futuro
At lastPor fin
At the latestComo tarde
At onceEnseguida
At peaceEn paz/De acuerdo
At presentActualmente
At a profitCon ganancias
At randomAl azar
At riskEn peligro
At seaEn alta mar
At the same timeAl mismo tiempo
At a time ofEn el momento que
At timesA veces
At workEn el trabajo


“At” + noun combinations in use

Now that we have a list of the preposition “at” with nouns and we know the correct translation, let’s move on to the last part of the episode and take a look at some sample sentences in context.

CollocationExample sentence
At dawnThe workers begin at dawn to avoid the heat of midday.
At a distance Mary likes to keep her colleagues at a distance and not socialise too much.
At firstAt first, the company went well, however the new manager was a disaster and the company is now filing for bankruptcy.
At first sightAt first sight, the financial statements look positive.
At a glanceAt a glance, I would say this presentation needs more work.
At a guessAt a guess, there were maybe 50 people at the event.
At gunpointBruce was held up at gunpoint on his last business trip to Rio.
At homeWhat time will you be at home after work so I can pop in?
At a later dateWe Will have to address this issue at a later date. We don’t have the time now.
At lastWe have finished the project at last. It was 2 months overdue.
At the latestI Will need that report on my desk by Monday at the latest.
At onceJohn, I would like to see you in my office at once.
At peaceJim and Brian have resolved their differences and are now at peace with each other.
At presentAt present, the company is not ready to make any additional investments.
At a profitI sold the inventory at a profit, despite offering a discount.
At randomWe are selecting one lucky customer at random to win a prize.
At riskIf we don’t move this stock soon, we will be at risk of making a loss.
At seaSometimes I feel at sea without a rudder. I need to find some direction.
At the same timeWe could run both campaigns at the same time.
At a time ofAt a time of crisis, everyone must keep their head.
At timesAt times being in business can be very stressful.
At workI’ll be at work in anyone needs me.


Well there you have it my friends, 22 proposition + noun combinations with the preposition “at”. I hope that these sample sentences have also given you some more context. I have tried to include some additional vocabulary and expressions in the examples to help you learn even more vocabulary.

If you’re a great student, then you can head over to the AOBE website and download a copy of the transcript to help you better study.

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Andrew is the CEO and founder of the Art of Business English. Besides teaching and coaching native Spanish speakers in Business English, he is also passionate about mountain biking, sailing and healthy living. When He is not working, Andrew loves to spend time with his family and friends.

Andrew Ambrosius

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