According to the Oxford Dictionary of Collocations (DC) and the BBI DC on is the corresponding prepositon for the noun island to say where something is situated. But there has also been an in the island version around (comp. Al Steward: On the Border). There is no distinction between the on and in version, is it? Are they interchangeable without a different (nuance of a) sense? With isle, however, the preposition is in. To sum up, we´ve got:
1) on the island
2) in the island
3) in the isle
Any idea why? Or is it just the way it is, just as it is in a lot of cases in language? If so, I could well live with that.
Numbers 1 and 2 aren't interchangable. For something to be in an island, it would have to be really inside the island, not on -- usually. But, for example, when an island is a country, and you think of it as a country, you may use "in":
in the island of Iceland = in Iceland
As for "isle", it's very rarely used as a common noun. Still, "on" is more common.
Last edited by birdeen's call; 13-Apr-2011 at 22:34.