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Is It Correct to Say “Based In”?

Perhaps you have seen a movie “based on” a book, or you’re a fan of “buttermilk-based” pastries. Maybe you dream of building a business “based at” your home, but what does “based in” mean? Is it even correct?

“Based in” is correct to use. It is an adjective followed by a preposition to describe the location of something. It can also relate the headquarters of something to a specified location: “The Hershey Company is based in Hershey, Pennsylvania.” “Based in” is not hyphenated, and it is not a phrasal verb.

Once you’ve read this article, you will hopefully have a working knowledge of based-plus-preposition forms based on (or in?) proper English grammar.

What Does “Based In” Mean?

The adjective “based” describes the location of something or where it primarily operates (source). Adding -based to a noun does the job concisely: “Downtown Candles is Memphis-based.” “Based in” is equivalent in meaning to the “location-based” form. It shows that an entity lives, works, or operates in a specific location.

Though we use it primarily for referencing the physical location from which something operates, “based in” can also describe the metaphorical roots of an idea. You can say, “her flat Earth belief is based in selective science.”

“Based in” carries a continuous sense of “operating” rather than simple “location.” “Mrs. Sanders’s online drop shipping business is based in her apartment.” 

Metaphorically, “based in” has a nuance of “continually draws from.” “Eve’s deep sense of self is based in her family history” relates that Eve continually relies on her family history to define herself.

How Do You Use “Based In”?

You can use “based in” to describe the central location or headquarters of a business: “Pizza Hut is a nation-wide pizza franchise based in Plano, Texas.” You may also explain the source of an argument using “based in” as a synonym of “rooted in”: “climate change is a theory based in science.”

The primary function of “based in” is adjectival. You use it to describe not only where something is physically or metaphorically but also where it operates from. The idea is that this entity or idea someone describes also exists outside of where it is based: “Amazon was once based in a garage.”

When Can You Use “Based In”?

Because “based in” communicates where an entity operates from, it is an adjective plus preposition. You can use it most commonly to describe a business’s headquarters, but it may also explain the subject an idea is grounded in (source).

To Describe a Central Physical Location

Most commonly, a person will use “based in” to explain where the headquarters of a business is located. You may state that “BMB Creations was founded in Chicago, but is currently based in Arkansas.”

A person may market themselves and their skills outside of a particular place: “I’m a software engineer based in New York.” In this case, a person could be “based in”a location. If someone simply says, “I’m based in New York,” it is technically grammatically correct but carries a sense of business-like “operating.”

“Based in” has the same meaning as -based in terms of identifying a central operating location. So, “Adobe is based in California” is equivalent in meaning to “Adobe is California-based.” 

To Describe the Metaphorical Roots of an Idea

It is also possible to use “based in” to describe the foundation of or the source from which someone draws an idea or belief. In “the Carsons’ parenting principles are based in their religious views,” “based in” is synonymous with “rooted in” or “grounded in.”

If you wish to read more about using the adjective-plus-preposition form in a metaphorical sense, check out our article on “Interested in or Interested on: Which Preposition to Use.”

In What Context Can You Use “Based In”?

You can use “based in” most naturally in stating a fact. “The future of Chinese technological innovation will be based in its Greater Bay Area” clearly communicates the location of the topic. Likewise, “her beliefs are based in truth” reflects the metaphorical foundation for her beliefs.

“Based in” has a continuous feel for whatever time period the statement is referencing.

Present Progressive ContextBMB Creations is currently based in Arkansas.
Past Progressive ContextBMB Creations was once based in Chicago.
Future Progressive ContextBMB Creations will be based in Arkansas next year.

Notice the term itself does not denote time, but the main verb’s tense and the adverbs of time in the sentence communicate when. Regardless, “based in” carries a sense of continuous “operating” rather than a static “located” whenever employed.

When Not to Use “Based In”

You should not use “based in” when referring to a person’s personal life. Though a person lives and works in a city, he or she is not “based in” that city except in terms of business operations. 

Also, you should avoid saying “based in” when referring to common nouns. We do not say “the soup is based in tomato,” rather, “the soup is tomato-based.”

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In general statements about people and relatives, one should avoid using “based in” because it sounds too business-like. A family does not “operate in” a city — they are “in” or “from” that city. 

So, you cannot say, “The Joneses are based in Kansas City.” You may say that a club, organization, business, or any other entity that “operates” is “based in” a certain area.

Similarly, common nouns are not “based in” an area. Furniture, dogs, fruit, and other common or collective nouns do not “operate” or need “headquarters,” nor do they have ideas drawn from a source. As such, you should not use “based in” when making statements about common nouns.

Is It Grammatically Correct to Say “Based In”?

It is grammatically correct to say “based in” to describe the location of a company’s operations or headquarters. It is also correct to use “based in” to describe the “roots” of an idea. 

Note that there are times when one should say “based in” versus “based on” or “based at,” though they can sometimes be interchangeable.

Prepositions are difficult in English because they are often fluid in meaning. Sometimes, “on” and “in” are interchangeable, while in others, they are definitely not the same in meaning. We’ll discuss that more below; but, for now, we are going to focus on the difference in meaning between “based in” and “based on.”

“Based in” Versus “Based on”

In reference to operating from somewhere or physical location, “based in” will always be a better choice than “based on.” However, “based on” can be more appropriate than “based in” in a metaphorical sense.

You can say what a person’s ideas, feelings, motivations, and theories are “based in” or “based on” something. You might say, “Jane’s fear of heights is based in/based on a childhood accident.” 

There is a difference, though. “Based on” has more of a “comes from,” “derives from,” or “based off of” meaning. Consider the sentence “The Harry Potter movies are based on J. K. Rowling’s books.”

For metaphorical use, “based in” is most closely related to “rooted in” or “grounded in.” If you are not sure which form to use, try switching “based in” with “rooted in.” If the meaning is unclear, then you should probably use “based on.”

“Based in” Versus “Based At”

Both “based in” and “based at” carry the same definition in relation to operating entities. “Her bakery is based in/based at downtown Seattle.” Yet, “based at” can only refer to physical location, whereas “based in” can also describe abstract sources for ideas, feelings, beliefs, and concepts.

“Based in” Versus -Based

When we connect -based to the name of a location, it carries the same meaning as “based in.” But, when -based connects to a common noun, the name of a person, animal, or thing, the meaning becomes more akin to “centered” without the “operating” nuance: “This is an internet-based program” (source).

Using “Based In” in a Full Sentence

“Based in” is an adjective plus preposition that you will often follow with a noun or an adjective plus noun to clarify the location of the subject. This means you will most likely see “based” immediately followed by a prepositional phrase headed by “in.”

The most important thing to remember when trying to figure out where to place “based in” is that it is an adjective describing where something operates from or where the idea came from, so, as such, place “based in” wherever a where-adjective will best communicate place.

Adjective Phrase at the Beginning of the SentenceBased in Memphis, FedEx is a huge U.S. freight company.
Immediately After the Subject ComplementMcDonald’s is a global fast-food company based in Chicago.
Adjective Phrase as Subject Complement (immediately after a linking verb)Pete’s Place is based in Kansas.

What Can You Use Instead of “Based In”?

If you wish to mix it up and keep from sounding like a broken record player, try using these synonyms.

When Describing Physical Location

  • Located in: “Waffle House is located in every mid-sized American city.”
  • Centered in: “Sonic is centered in Oklahoma City.”
  • Operating from: “My global online business is operating from my garage.”

When Describing Metaphorical or Abstract Location

  • Rooted in: “Her inner strength is rooted in her faith.”
  • Grounded in: “The doctor’s approach is grounded in holistic medicine.”

Preposition Types

Prepositions are one of the most difficult parts of speech to grasp in any language because they are so fluid. The differences between “in” and “on” can be slight nuances in some cases. For example, you “get in” a car, but you “get on” a bus. 

Prepositions come in many shapes and sizes, but their primary purpose is to show when, where, how, and in what direction. English has eight types of prepositions: time, place, direction, manner, agent, measure, source, and possession. The following table contains a few examples of each type.

Time: at, before, during, until, after, on, and inThe mail arrived on time.
The mail arrived at the right time.
The mail arrived during naptime.
The mail arrived after dinner.
The mail arrived consistently in 2022.
The mail arrived before we left.
The mail did not arrive until the game started.
Place: on, at, in, under, over, outside, and betweenThe book is on the shelf.
The book is in the box.
The book is at the library.
Direction: to, toward, forward, through, into, down, up, around, and pastJohn walked to the bear.
John stepped toward the bear.
John stepped forward.
Manner: by, with, like, on, and inI’m going to the airport by taxi.
I’m going to walk in like I own the place.
The cat responded with fear and anger.
Agent: with and byThe donation was given by Jackie Chan.
Open the package with scissors.
Measure: of and byThere are at least four bushels of beans left.
She buys olive oil by the barrel for her restaurant.
Source: by and fromThe necklace was made by her mother.
The necklace was from her mother.
Possession: of and withThey are friends of mine.
The dog with the blue collar is mine.

As you can see from the chart above, many prepositions (like in, on, to, at, by, and with) can serve several purposes, but not all. The “in” in “based in” will most likely be a preposition of place for location.

Prepositional Phrases

Prepositional phrases begin with a preposition and end with a noun. In “it is a good practice to invest in the stock market,” “in” is the preposition, and “market” is the noun after it. Therefore, “in the stock market” is a prepositional phrase. Note that we may include adjectives between the preposition and the noun in a prepositional phrase.

The purpose of a prepositional phrase is to add information to the sentence. They primarily modify a noun or a verb, which makes them adjectival (the barn in the field) or adverbial (look under the table), respectively.

There are some cases when a prepositional phrase can act as a noun. You will most likely see these at the beginning of a sentence: “After showers will be too late for dessert.”

In terms of “based in,” the “in” is a preposition likely heading up a prepositional phrase. In “their organization is based in Atlanta,” “in Atlanta” is a prepositional phrase modifying the adjective “based.” This article is written for

The whole block of “based in Atlanta” comes after a linking verb, so the whole phrase is a subject complement to “their organization.”

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Final Thoughts

“Based in” is an adjective-plus-preposition form that communicates the location from which an entity operates or the metaphorical roots of an idea. It is synonymous with -based in reference to a physical location and with “rooted in” in a metaphorical sense.

“Based in” carries a nuance of continuous operation. You will mostly use it in general statements. You might even say that the content of this article is “based in” English grammatical fact.