• Morgan Fagg

What are you on about?

Get on board with these confusing prepositions

ON A HIGH: I look out the window and wonder about the small things, the ins and outs of English prepositions.

As you board the International Space Station and walk around inside, I wonder if the international crews get confused with English prepositions.

I am always a little confused by English prepositions and hate descriptions such as, “On TV” and imagine this description comes from a much more sensible description of being “On Stage.”


Are you on the radio when you are on air or were people on drugs when they came up with these descriptions?



ON YER BIKE

I understand to be on a bike as you physically sit on the saddle but I wonder why we don’t say in a plane, in a bus, train or submarine. I always imagine it has something to with earlier technology where you strode on top of a bi-plane like it was a horse and sat on early subway systems that weren’t enclosed.


Riding a train like a rollercoaster just sounds terrifying to me but the explanation I have always come across for saying on a train, plane, bus or boat is that you are boarding the vehicle. You are stepping onboard a spacious vehicle in which you will have to walk to your seat.


The same is not true of cars of course as you are clearly in/on your seat within the car and you don’t have to walk around looking for a seat.


Wait, do prepositions change when you drive a convertible?


In the vacuum of space, you really need to know your prepositions if you want a position onboard the ISS but for me, I wonder if someone is in or on the International Space Station and I can’t imagine such confusing references have made life any easier for all the international people learning to speak English as a second language.


Just something on my mind that I thought I would share, keep it in mind, the next time someone says, What’s on the tv?”






What are you on about?

What are you on about? = What are you talking about?

What are you on? = It implies that they might be on drugs.

You might ask this question if someone says something strange.

Ins and outs = The details or "nuts and bolts" of an idea

On Your bike = Can mean, Get out of here or go away

Keep in mind = Remember it

On my mind = Something you are thinking about

Get onboard = To get onboard a boat or plane, you are agreeing to enter the vehicle and go somewhere, likewise to get onboard can mean to agree to something.

Example: Who is onboard with the new environmental policies? Who agrees with them?

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