In Home or at Home: Which Is the Correct Form?

When speaking or writing in English, subtle differences in phrasing and word choice can make your language appear fluent and accomplished — or it can demonstrate that you don’t have a grasp of English grammar.

The correct phrase to use is usually “I am at home.” when you’re speaking about being in your house or place of residence. However, in some contexts, it can be correct to use the phrase “in my home,” and there are times when the phrase “I am home” is also correct. 

Although it may seem tricky and even frustrating to understand the details of grammar at work in these different phrases, the effort will be worth it as you will demonstrate your grasp of correct English and make your meaning clear. So, keep reading to learn all you need to know!

What Is the Meaning of the Phrase “at Home”?

Although the phrase “at home” has a primary meaning that is very simple, we can use it in a few different ways, depending on the connotation of the word “home.”

The word “home” has several meanings, but the primary one is a house or other kind of dwelling — it could be an apartment or even a castle! — in which you live (source).

Therefore, the phrase “at home” conveys the meaning that the sentence’s subject is inside his, her, or their own place of residence.

A home is usually a building, and we can often replace the word with “house” in a sentence. However, the word “home” has the emotional connotation of a personal dwelling. Consider the variance in tone between these two sentences:

I live in a three-bedroom house in the suburbs.

I live in a comfortable home with my three children and two dogs.

The first sentence conveys information about the type of building you live in. The second sentence, in contrast, conveys emotional information about your living situation.

The Grammar of the Phrase “at Home”

In this phrase, the word “home” is the object of the sentence, and “at” is the preposition indicating the position of the subject in relation to that object. Consider these examples using different subjects:

I am at home
(First-person singular)

He is at home
(Third-person masculine singular)

They are at home
(Third-person plural)

Note that the verb to be” is conjugated differently for each subject in the examples above — am, is, and are, respectively.

We will plunge further into the complicated grammar beneath these apparently simple sentences later in this article.

Alternative Meanings of the Phrase “at Home”

The word “home” has other related meanings with different connotations, which can change the meaning of the phrase “at home” (source). 

For example, the word “home” can convey a sense of comfort and belonging (source):

I have only lived in Paris for a year, but I feel very at home here.

The word “home” can also mean your place of origin, such as your home country. For example:

At home in Ireland, we celebrate St Patrick’s Day by dressing in green, drinking beer, and singing traditional songs.

Note that it is more common in American English to say “back home” than “at home” in this context.

And if a sports team is playing a match at its own facility or complex, we could say they are playing “at home.” For example:

Manchester United fans flooded the stadium during the team’s match at home against Tottenham Hotspur last week.

What Is the Meaning of “In-Home”?

The hyphenated word in-home is a compound adjective. A compound adjective is an adjective made up of two other words that work together to describe a noun (source). In this case, a hyphen joins the words.

The compound adjective “in-home” means occurring in or provided at a person’s home. Many often use it to describe services such as nursing or care. Consider this example:

Our organization provides extensive services for the elderly, including in-home frail-care.

Which Is Correct: “I Am at Home,” “I Am in Home,” or “I Am Home”?

Image by Scott Webb via Unsplash

These three phrases are extremely similar in appearance, but there are important differences between them, which will require you to understand some complex concepts relating to parts of speech.

The most important thing to note about these phrases is that the phrase “I am in home” is grammatically incorrect. 

We will discuss the phrase “in my home” later in this section. First, let’s consider the phrases “I am at home” and “I am home.”

Many often use these two phrases interchangeably in American English, but they do convey slightly different meanings and have different grammatical structures.

How to Use the Phrase “I Am at Home”

In the phrase “I am at home,” the word “home” is the sentence’s object, and it functions as a noun. Remember that a noun is a naming word that indicates a person, a place, a thing, or even an idea. 

In this phrase, the word “home” is a common noun indicating an abstract, unspecified location that we frequent in everyday life. 

The noun “home,” like the nouns “school” and “work,” is what we refer to as a noncount or uncountable noun and does not need an article to precede it — the, a, or an — or a determiner (source). Consider these examples:

The kids were at school yesterday.

She is at work and can’t meet me for lunch this afternoon.

“Are you still at work?” “No, I am at home now.”

At Home

As we have discussed above, the preposition at” indicates the subject‘s physical position in relation to the object.

As you can tell from the examples above, we use the preposition “at” with the common nouns “school,” “home,” and “work.” This is because it functions as a preposition of place to indicate a location (source).

Here are some more examples of when to use the preposition “at”:

  • At the end of the road
  • At the entrance
  • At the cinema

Therefore, in the phrase “I am at home,” the preposition “at” indicates your location at your home.

In Home

In contrast, the preposition “in” is a preposition of space we use to indicate either an enclosed space or a much larger geographical area, such as a city or country:

  • In a box
  • In an airplane
  • In an elevator
  • In New York
  • In Chile

This is one reason why the phrase “I am in home” is incorrect — because the choice of preposition is incorrect.

To learn more about different prepositions and how to use them, read “Appreciation of or for: When to Use each Preposition in Conjunction with Appreciation.

How to Use the Phrase “I Am Home”

In the phrase “I am home,” the word “home” acts as an adverb of place, indicating the direction of the verb to be. This means that no preposition is required (source). Consider this sentence:

The man went home.

In this sentence, “the man” is the subject, “went” is the verb, and the word “home” indicates the direction of that verb. We require no preposition in this case, just as you would not require a preposition for these sentences:

The ship sails north.

We fell down.

In these sentences, the words “north” and “down” are also adverbs of place, indicating the direction of the verbs “to sail” and “to fall.” Strange as it may seem, in the phrase “I am home,” the same rules apply.

Is “I Am Home” Correct Grammar?

The phrase “I am home” is correct grammar, but many often use it more informally and emotionally than the phrase “I am at home.”

Whereas “I am at home” is a neutral statement of your location, “I am home” might be a phrase you text to your friend to let him know you have arrived safely at your house after a night out. Consider these examples:

Whenever I go out, I let my mom know where I am, and then I call her to tell her Im home.

The subject “I” is the first-person singular, and the verb “am” is the present tense of “to be.” Note that “I’m” is a contraction of “I am.”

As she got into bed, she texted her date to let him know she was home.

In this case, the subject “she” is the third-person female singular. The verb “was” is the past tense of “to be.”

We can also see this usage in the cliché “Honey, I’m home!” which you might call out to tell your spouse, who is already at home, that you have arrived back from work.

You might not use this form of the phrase if your spouse was not already inside the house.

Note that in American English, Americans sometimes use the phrases “I am at home” and “I am home” interchangeably. The difference in tone is more specific to British English.

To learn more about the subtle differences between similar phrases, read “In the Beginning or at the Beginning: Understanding When to Use Each Phrase.”

Image by Blake Wisz via Unsplash

How to Use the Phrase “in My Home”

As we have discussed, the phrase “I am in home” is incorrect because the preposition“in” is not the correct choice when referring to your position in relation to the location or point of your home. However, consider this example:

Now that I have a streaming subscription, I can watch blockbuster movies in my home.

In this case, the phrase “in my home” is grammatically correct because, in this sentence, the word “home” refers to the enclosed space inside the house or building rather than to a spatial location. In this case, the choice of the preposition “in” is correct. 

However, this usage also transforms the word “home” into a count or countable noun because we are referring to a specific home space rather than the abstract concept of home in general.

This means the noun “home” must be prefaced with an article or determiner, in this case, the possessive determiner “my.”

Note that in the phrase “in my home,” the type of building is not specified. Your home may be in a house or an apartment building — the word “home” simply refers to the place in which you live.

Is It Correct to Say “at My Home” or “in My Home”?

The phrase “in my home” is grammatically correct, while the phrase “at my home” is not. Consider the table below to help you understand the correct combination of preposition, determiner, and noun.

PhraseCorrect or Incorrect?Reason
At homeCorrectHome is used as a spatial location, which must be preceded by the preposition of space at.
AND
Home is a noncount noun, which is not preceded by an article or determiner.
In homeIncorrectHome is used as a spatial location, which must be preceded by the preposition of space at.
OR
Home is used in the sense of an enclosed space, which must be preceded by the preposition in, but it is, therefore, also a countable noun, which must be preceded by a determiner such as my.
At my homeIncorrectHome is used as a spatial location, which must be preceded by the preposition of space at, but it is therefore also a noncount noun, which is not preceded by an article or determiner.
In my homeCorrectHome is used in the sense of an enclosed space, which must be preceded by the preposition in.
AND
Home is a countable noun, which must be preceded by a determiner such as my.
Example

Consider this example:

In our home, we help cook the meals and clear the table afterward.

In this sentence, the word “home” may have a more emotional sense, referring to the family environment rather than simply the building in which we live.

However, in grammatical terms, the word “home” is still used in the sense of an enclosed space — rather than a location. 

That is why the choice of the preposition “in” is appropriate. In addition, the word “home” is a countable noun, which must be preceded by a determiner, in this case, the word “our.”

How to Use the Phrase “in the Home”

The phrase “in the home,” in which the noun “home” is preceded by the definite article “the,” can also be used to speak about homes in general. For example:

Installing solar panels can help to reduce energy costs in the home.

In this sentence, we are not speaking about any particular person’s home, but about houses and homes in general and theoretical terms.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to tricky combinations of nouns, prepositions, articles, adverbs, and the other forms of speech we’ve discussed, it’s easy to feel lost. 

A good navigator can help you fight that lost feeling, so consider investing in a style guide such as Dreyer’s English and a good dictionary like The Oxford New Essential Dictionary. Both are available on Amazon.

It’s worth taking time to understand the grammar rules that create roles for the various words in the sentences you’re using. Keep practicing, and ask first-language English speakers for their opinions.

Even if they don’t know why, they will probably know what sounds correct and what doesn’t.

Laura Byrne

Laura is a lifelong English literature nerd. Most of the time, she works as a television journalist with a focus on science, medical and environmental stories. She loves cycling, running (usually accompanied by her large fluffy dog), and cooking up a storm.

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