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ESL forum > Ask for help > In front of the computer or opposite the computer?    

In front of the computer or opposite the computer?

Ana Alvim

In front of the computer or opposite the computer?
Why should we say "I sit in front of the computer" when there s nothing behind? Thank you.

7 May 2012      

United States

There s nothing behind what - you or the computer? What difference does that make, anyway? If it bothers you, you can say, "I sit at the computer".

7 May 2012     


Good question  Smile   ...thats why I prefer "at" as when you sit at a table, but would love to know the answer to your question...

7 May 2012     

United Kingdom

In front is fine. You sit in front of a computer or a TV. In fact, I know kids who sit in front of these things all day!

7 May 2012     


I sit in front of my computer (laptop) which sits in front of all the clutter on my desk, you know, post it notes with reminders, pens, useful bits torn out of newspapers, and other bits and pieces that I accumulate during the course of the term.  It kinda all gets pushed back there and when I need it I know where to look.  So, there s lots behind my computer.   And behind me, well much the same,  just larger versions of stuff that wont fit behind my computer.
On a more serious note, thats just how it is said.  Google it and you will see that is how it is commonly said, as is at a computer.  So, both are ok.

7 May 2012     

United States

If any of my previous Directors called me and asked me where I am/was, I always said, "in front of my computer working my @#$# off for you" and thinking where else could I be (my Director s office was always next door to my office).  I never said or heard anyone said that they were at their computer.  We work in front of the computer and not at it.

7 May 2012     

United States

Sorry, John, I disagree.

I say that I am "at the computer, at the table, at the desk, at the board," etc. when I m using one of them.

I hope you re not mad AT me.  Embarrassed

Zoe M.

7 May 2012     

United Kingdom

I agree that at is OK. 

I don t actually understand the problem with there being nothing behind something before you can say in front of .   

7 May 2012     

United Kingdom

Dear Ana Alvim,
"Why should we say "I sit in front of the computer" when there s nothing behind?"
Similarly to Bruce and to others, I ask: "What difference does that make?"
I don t understand your problem.
Here are some sentences similar to your sentence.
"Why should I say, I have a coin in my left pocket , when there is nothing in my right pocket?"
Pardon?  What a strange comment to make!
"Why should I say, I have a chair underneath my body , when there is nothing above my body?"
This is also a strange comment to make!
"Why should I say, There is a train coming into the station , when there is nothing going out of the station?"
This is another strange comment to make!
"In front of" is a form of preposition, (which uses three words).  It is similar to the preposition "before".
The opposite of "in front of" is "behind", (American English "in back of"), but it is not necessary to use this opposite word in the same sentence.  There MAY be something behind the computer, or there may NOT be, but whether there is or not is totally irrelevant.
"I sit in front of the computer".
"I sit before the computer".
"I sit at the computer".
The three sentences convey the same message.  Please, use whichever one suits you best.
I hope that you don t think that I am attempting to insult you!  I chose three stupid sentences just to try to show you how strange a question you had posed to us.
If I have misunderstood your query, I apologise.
All the Best.

7 May 2012     

Ana Alvim

I feel as if I was misunderstood.Cry I am now teaching Prepositions of Place to Portuguese students who don t have to deal with the difference between "in front of" and "opposite" in their own language. We use the same for both situations. When I teach them this topic I say that something which is in front of means that the other part has to be behind, whereas with opposite it means that both things are face to face. Therefore they frequenly ask why they never listen to " I sit opposite the computer". Obviously "I sit at the computer" is OK, but why can t I say "I sit opposite the computer"?
Thanks again.

8 May 2012