Both "at the airport" and "in the airport" makes sense in English, and can be translated with the Spanish "en".
I land at the airport.
The desk is in the airport.
In the airport would suggest that you would be on the runway, in some of its administrative offices, the hangars, the mechanics shop or else.
It depends on how specific you want to be, for general purpose? "EN" it's fine, like if you're talking to someone by phone and ask you "Dónde estás", "EN el aeropuerto", like in English, you're not specifying in or outside; more specific? Like telling someone to pick you up "where are you?" Would be something like "AFUERA DEL aeropuerto, salida A" (at the airport, exit A, for example)
For some reason I can't reply to ecedenya's comment below, so I'll reply here.
As Perce_Neige says, "at the airport" and "in the airport" are not quite the same thing, but for the vast majority of times, saying "en el aeropuerto" would be plenty good enough because it is not so relevant whether you are inside the airport or whether you are standing outside of the airport, just as in English when you say "I'm at the airport", it is not really relevant whether or not you are standing inside or outside of any airport building at the time you are speaking your sentence... saying "en el aeropuerto", or "I'm at the airport" is sufficient and exact location is not required.
On the other hand, now when your relative is driving up to the airport and illegally talking to you on the phone and is asking you where you are so that he/she know specifically where to go find you, as ecedenya pointed out, now you can be more specific and say that you are outside the airport building, at Exit A: "Afuera del aeropuerto, salida A".
So now you've specified that you are at Exit A, outside (afuera) the airport.
I don't know if this is the correct way to say it in Spanish, but if you wanted to specify that you were inside at Exit A, I think that you would say: "Soy al dentro del aeropuerto, salida A", basically, "I'm inside, at Exit A".
Can a native speaker confirm or correct?
No, if you are "at" the airport, it means you are in this place, not outside.
It's only outside if you are about to enter this place:
I go at the airport.
If you say "At the airport", it's supposed to be in this place, not outside.
There's also the "in the airport", to describe something that is "inside", often a part of the airport, like shops, etc..
I am a native English speaker. It is ALWAYS WRONG to say "I go at the airport.
Think of it this way: If you are walking TOward the airport, you are taking yourself TO it. Also, you can say you are going inTO it.
Furthermore, when you say that you are "going at it," this is idiomatic English that means you are fighting with someone, battling something, or being adversarial in some way. For example, "They were going at the problem incorrectly." Another colloquial meaning of "going at it" is that one is engaging in sexual activity. The main idea of this idiom is that you are grappling with something.
It's absoluterly not the same thing, to say "in the airport", and "at the airport".
"in" means inside, like things that are inside the aiport.
"at" means going to this place, meeting someone at this place.
They are both translated with the Spanish "in", but the "at" and "in" in English don't have the same meaning.
As Shakespeare said, "Aye, there's the rub!" The English colloquialism "Practice makes perfect" applies here.
Some people believe that all one needs to do is merely listen and then an understanding of, and a proficiency with, the words of another language will automatically come. However, there are two parts to learning a language.
The easy part is memorizing the vocabulary. The hard part is understanding in what order to put the beads on the string and knowing which color combinations work and which don't. In other words, there are rules in every language about word order and word choice.
Until you learn them, you cannot be said to know the language, even if you have memorized 10,000 words. There is a big difference between "Man bites dog" and "Dog bites man." Until you have studied the rules, broken them while speaking to native speakers, and learned from experience over time, there is no way to "think" in Spanish instead of "thinking in English."
It depends on the context. Here "En el aeropuerto", without a context, can mean both.
With a context, we know which one to chose:
Estoy en el aeropuerto = I am at the airport.
(because in English "at" is used to be in a place. A precise place (unless you talk about something like a city: I am in Madrid)
En en aeropuerto, hay muchos aviones.
= In the airport, there are many planes.
You use "in" in English, because you mean that the things are inside this place.
That should be: AT the airport, there are many planes. IN the airport, hay muchos terminales (there are many terminals). The planes are AT the airport. Passengers are IN the plane, luggage handlers are AT the plane. This exercise needs context. As it stands, either IN the airport, or AT the airport, should be accepted.
Native Spanish speakers downvote comments like this because the difference between a geographical location and a destination being traveled to is an essential concept of Spanish syntax.
However, the difference between a direction, a destination, and a location is less semantically important in English. While context does definitively influence when to choose many English prepositions, sometimes it just doesn't matter in terms of syntax. The easiest solution is to pick a compound preposition that incorporates "in," such as "within,"into," "wherein," etc. Such English prepositions are very versatile.
Just like Spanish and many other languages, English has many prepositions that carry many shades of meaning. When reading the English translations of the definitions of different Spanish prepositions at SpanishDict.com, I try to look for compound prepositions such as "into," "within," etc. Such English compound prepositions are very useful because they can be used in a variety of ways.
"on" only in some expression about transportation (on the train, on the board), the first meaning of "en" is in, and it can be "at" if it means "at a place". It's related to the English grammar use, more than to the Spanish grammar.
I'm in Madrid. I'm at the airport.
The English language uses "in" or "at" depending on the context = which kind of place it is.
I am having an issue with pronunciation... So when said together the "el" begins to sound like "la" when transitioning into aeropuerto? When I was asked to say the sentence in Spanish I was either marked wrong when I said it slowly (getting "en" and "el" correct) or marked wrong when saying it at a faster pace (only getting "en" correct)... I'll need a lot of practice with diction, as my native speaker friend would say "You American have lazy tongues"
It depends the context. https://thegrammarexchange.infopop.cc/topic/at-in-the-airport
I think this might as well have just been translated 'in the airport' in English too...both are about equally common, and personally I like 'in the airport' a little better in English.
I'm not complaining about the Spanish translation or that 'en' can mean 'in' or 'at,' just the ENGLISH translation was needlessly deceptive for a phrase that 'in' works just fine in.
They are not used the same way. You go at the airport (al aeropuerto), You met someone at the airport (en el aeropuerto), but you can describe something that is inside the airport = in the airport (en el aeropuerto).
I do agree, in a bit of sentence without a context, it could be translated by both.
Interesting point, Danielconcasco. Being a native English speaker, I still think of Spanish prepositions as working in the same way that English prepositions do. To learn how Spanish prepositions work, I started looking them up when I was translating from English to Spanish. I did this in order to check if I was using them correctly. (At this point, I just want to plug that we end-users of DL can look up any word in the "Reply" dialog box just by highlighting it and selecting "Look Up." The first time I did this, I looked up the difference between "suficiente" and "bastante.")
Back to how to think about the Spanish word choice of "en" where the English word choice is "at": Would another way of putting it be that a location exists in a specific area, and thus—if you are already "at" the location (rather than going toward/going to that place)—you can be thought of as being within the perimeters of said place? In other words, I think of it as a native Spanish speaker translating "Estoy en el aeropuerto" into English as "I am withIN the airport."
Any light that anyone can shine on this would be greatly appreciated.
My opinion: Babies learn to speak their mother tongue by observing things around them and connecting each thing with a specific sound and word. From this foundation, they (the babies) form a mental construct of metaphors based on concrete imagery that is experienced, imagined, or both. This being said, with all languages, the syntax of each is an ever-evolving reflection of how its speakers mint new phrases, coin new metaphors, and kill off imagery and phrases that, for whatever reason, just don't seem to "sound right." In other words, the catchiness of any newly minted phrase is critical. Memorable strings of words last and become colloquialisms and idioms, less memorable phrases do not.
So, my short answer is that "en el aeropuerto" is the colloquial Spanish, "at the airport" is the colloquial English, and you, as a native English speaker, just have to accept that you need to think "at" when you hear "en." The way I do it myself is to first learn the literal English translation of the idiomatic Spanish, even when it doesn't make sense in English. Once I can hear the words and remember them, and once I have learnt their literal meanings, I then, in my thoughts, start substituting the idiomatic English that carries the same meaning every time I can remember to do so.
For the * grammatical* explanation of why I think that "en el aeropuerto" should be translated as "at the airport," see my reply to Danielconcasco's comment.
Is Spanish sentense structure the exact same as English? It seems to be so far, except on questions.
Also, does Duolingo have owl calls in the audios for some reason? I keep hearing owls, and either Duolingo put them in for some reason, there's an owl outside, or I'm going crazy.
In English there are two possible translations from Spanish (to me or me). In Spanish there is only one possible translation from English.
"He brings it to me" = "He brings me it" = "Me lo trae."
Spanish sentence structure, AKA (also known as) syntax, is not always the same as English sentence structure. Syntactically, all English sentences put object pronouns after the verb, and only way that the syntax of "He brings it to me" differs from the syntax of "He brings me it" is that "to me" is genitive case while "me" is objective case. But whether it be one object or two in a sentence, all English object pronouns—whether genitive or objective—come after the verb.
If you translate either of these two English sentences into Spanish (Me lo trae), its Spanish translation ALWAYS means "He brings me it." The syntax of "Me lo trae" puts any object pronouns before the verb, with the indirect object pronoun always preceding the direct object pronoun.
Depending on context, either of the answers could be correct. If you want to stop getting marked "wrong," you need to report every time when your answer should be accepted. Once you report that both possible answers are correct, the DL program steers you to translations that tests your real knowledge and provide definitive information about the right answer. The program only does this if the translations and interpretations that you reported as correct were both, in fact, correct.
To me, en el aeropuerto, without any other context means being where the airport is (i.e. at the airport) while i do agree that saying "in the airport" in English can communicate the same thing, it is less clear because to say "in the airport can mean "within" or "inside of the airport" which in Spanish would be said "a dentro del aeropuerto."