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  1. #1
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    throw something in your face, or on your face

    Which of these is correct and why...

    My brother threw a pie in my face.
    My brother threw a pie on my face.

    I would think the first is right but I don't know how to explain it to my boyfriend who speaks english as a second language.

    Please help

  2. #2
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    Re: throw something in your face, or on your face

    Hi

    see the following, earlier thread:

    http://www.usingenglish.com/forum/as...unch-face.html

    Hope this helps
    NT

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    Re: throw something in your face, or on your face

    'in' has the meaning: 'expressing motion with the result that something ends up within or surrounded by something else'
    which is in line with the pie going into the face.


    'on' , in this context, has the meaning of 'physically in contact with and supported by (a surface)' - hence, we associate 'on' with horizontal surfaces as in 'on the table'. Even if the person was lying on the floor, so their face was horizontal, we would still use 'in' to convey the sense of motion towards, 'in to'.
    Last edited by David L.; 31-Oct-2008 at 09:02.

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    Re: throw something in your face, or on your face

    Hi David

    You can:
    Hit someone on the head with a frying pan
    Tap someone on the forehead/shoulder
    Punch someone on the nose
    etc

    That was the problem we faced with the motion and surrounding aspects last time.

    All imply motion and the nose etc has surroundings just like the face.

    Any suggestions as to how we could explain these situations?

    Many thanks
    NT

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    Re: throw something in your face, or on your face

    The emphasis in each of your examples is not the 'motion towards'.
    'on' in your examples has the meaning:
    'having (the place or thing mentioned-head, forehead, nose,) as a 'target';
    ... as in, similarly:
    "Five air raids on the city."
    "Thousands marching on Washington."
    (We also see this in the sense of having (the thing mentioned) as a 'target' for visual focus :
    "Her eyes were fixed on his trembling lips, as he uttered the words..."
    We kiss someone 'on the lips' not 'in the lips'
    Last edited by David L.; 31-Oct-2008 at 09:16.

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    Re: throw something in your face, or on your face

    Hi David

    Many thanks for your post.

    I think we are getting much closer to guidelines for non-NES's, but not sure we are fully there yet.

    In the case of the proverbial custard pie in the face (or a punch in the eye) the face/eye would have been the actual target, yet we would always use "in".

    Do you have any tweaks on your post for non-NES's that would cover the use of "in" when there is a target.

    Best regards
    NT

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    Re: throw something in your face, or on your face

    Remember, it partly depends on whether it is the target, or the motion towards which is being emphasized. 'a pie in the face' implies the motion towards the face; and it is far funnier to see a pie thrown and splatter in someone's face, and the gooey aftermath, than just seeing custard or cream smeared on a face.

    Apart from that, these usages just develop over centuries.

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