I have read many articles and SO answers regarding this question. And still have some problems with it. "An" and "bei" look so similar that I hardly can choose what to use. I mean only those cases where we're talking about particular places.
- Es ist am Bahnhof passiert
- Es ist beim Bahnhof passiert
- Es ist auf dem Bahnhof passiert
Do I understand it properly, that:
- The 1st (an) means:
- very very very close to the train station. May be in front of the door or near the wall of the building
- but never "on/inside the territory of the train station"
- The 2nd (bei) means:
- close to the train station. Maybe not so close as with "an", but at least more or less close. Nearby
- even on the territory of the train station (like "in" or "auf")
- The 3rd (auf) means:
- on the territory of the train station
- but never near the train station
- in some awkward cases on the roof of the train station
Google shows me that "am Bahnhof" is the most popular.
Many articles and answers shows that "beim" and "am" (in relation to locations) means almost the same, but "an" is closer to the object than "bei". But some answers says that "bei" can also mean "inside / on the / in".
Or maybe in some cases like this it means 100% the same?