1. Zack Winchester
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    Zack Winchester Member

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    Problems with "in" and "on"

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Zack Winchester, Dec 9, 2014.

    Hi everyone. So, as you may imagine from the title, my native language isn't English. And even though I write and speak English pretty well, when it comes to "in" and "on", sometimes I have trouble. For instance, in the novel than I'm writing, a character receives an update for the apps of his cell phone. In this case, should I say the apps on his phone, or the apps in his phone? Another one. My MC is in a concert and thinks the singer sounds just like in/on the albums. So, does she sounds just like in the albums or like on the albums. Last one. I know that when a person drinks from a straw, he or she puts the straw in his mouth. but if I were to say lips instead of mouth, would he put the straw on his lips or in his lips? And why does a person sits in the driver's seat but seats on a bar stool instead of in a bar stool? Are they interchangeable? I'm sorry if some of these questions seem stupid or obvious, but well, I guess asking them is the only way to learn. Thanks in advance!
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Hello, Zack! :) The issue with on/in is a common one for latinos because even though there are specific words for each in Spanish, we tend to only use en in both circumstances.
    In this case, on.
    Also on in this case.
    Neither. For lips, things go between, unless we're talking lipstick or chapstick, then it's on.
    Because it's an enclosed space in a car. This is why in English you get in and out of the car instead of subir and bajar.
    These are not stupid questions. ;) Never fear to ask.
     
  3. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    In this case, should I say the apps on his phone, or the apps in his phone?: On

    My MC is in a concert and thinks the singer sounds just like in/on the albums.: Both work.

    would he put the straw on his lips or in his lips?:
    Neither. He would put the straw in his mouth or to his lips.

    Why does a person sits in the driver's seat but seats on a bar stool instead of in a bar stool?

    Not interchangeable. In the driver's seat has a different etymology meaning 'in charge' or in the car.

    On the barstool has no equivalent etymology.

    These are just language quirks that come from how the language evolves over the centuries. In Spanish my favorite example is things get lost, as if all by themselves. In English things get lost but more often we say who lost it.

    Spanish: It got lost.
    English: He lost it.


    And everything @Wreybies said. Given his examples, 'for' is another one: one word in English but para and por in Spanish.
     
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  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    But one can sound like the singer [sounds] in the album as well. It depends if you are thinking of an [unspoken noun] or an [unspoken verb, or adverb clause].

    'On' is more common but 'in' can be used.
    He sang in the last album they made.
    Could be my bad grammar but one will still hear it sometimes.
     
  5. Zack Winchester
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    Zack Winchester Member

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    Awesome. Thanks!
     
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  6. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would say "He sang on the last album they made" but I would say "He sang in their last recording session". Gotta love those quirks!

    And in the example of sounding like the singer in the album, that implies to me a different singer covering the song, rather than the original singer performing some of her own material, where I'd expect her to sound just like on her album.

    Bear in mind that UK & US English also have their differences - Winston Churchill described us as two nations divided by a common language!
     

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