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    #1

    Doubt using In or On (specific case)

    Recently I was doing a translation of an article from Portuguese to English and I came across a doubt concerning the usage of In/On in some specific cases. Even though I have studied English for large years and I even graduated in English studies I have to admit that in some ocasions I still have doubts concerning this matter, which is somewhat embarrassing. Moving on to the doubt itself, this article was about Roman Lamps and in some ocasions it would adress issues such as the "decoration" or the "pottery marks". So my doubt is exactly this, when refering to the decoration or marks present in something such as a lamp (or another object) should I use "decoration/marks in lamps" or "decoration/marks on lamps". I do know that usualy "on" is used for something standing on a surface and usualy external to the object itself, and "in" for something that is part of the object but that usualy is found surrounded by something. However, in some cases, the explanations concerning this issue can be somewhat vague or even ambiguous. As the matter of fact, those notions are exactly what is making me have doubts in this case, considering that, even though the decoration and marks are part of the object itself, they are also found "on" the surface of the object. I am being led to believe that in this case "in" should be used due to the fact that the decoration/mark is something that is part of the lamp itself, but however I still have my doubts. I am hoping someone can clear this "rookie" doubt for me once and for all. Thanks in advance.

  1. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Doubt using In or On (specific case)

    Use "on". Something doesn't have to "stand on the surface" of something to be "on" it. It simply has to appear on the surface.

    I have scars on my back.
    There are spots on his skin.
    There are marks on the lamp.
    I can see some strange dark areas on the Moon.

    If you told me that there was a decoration or a mark "in the lamp", I would try to look right inside it, ie I would remove the lid and try to peer into the interior of the lamp.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #3

    Re: Doubt using In or On (specific case)

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    Use "on". Something doesn't have to "stand on the surface" of something to be "on" it. It simply has to appear on the surface.

    I have scars on my back.
    There are spots on his skin.
    There are marks on the lamp.
    I can see some strange dark areas on the Moon.

    If you told me that there was a decoration or a mark "in the lamp", I would try to look right inside it, ie I would remove the lid and try to peer into the interior of the lamp.
    Thank you for clearing my doubt. I have actualy already finished that translation quite a few days ago and I have used "on" in those cases following the reasoning you just explained to me. But I was really starting to wonder if I had messed up and starting to think I should have used "in", which was quite unsettling. I'm glad to know I made the right choice. Thanks again.

  2. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Doubt using In or On (specific case)

    Quote Originally Posted by Lusitano View Post
    Recently, I was doing a translation of an article from Portuguese to English, and I came across a doubt concerning the usage of in/on in some specific cases. Even though I have studied English for many years, and I even graduated in English studies, I have to admit that on some occasions I still have doubts concerning this matter, which is somewhat embarrassing. Moving on to the doubt itself, this article was about Roman Lamps and the issue of the "decoration" or the "pottery marks". So my doubt is exactly this: when referring to the decoration or marks present in something such as a lamp (or another object) should I use "decoration/marks in lamps" or "decoration/marks on lamps". I do know that usually "on" is used for something standing on a surface and usually external to the object itself, and "in" for something that is part of the object but that usually is found surrounded by something. However, in some cases, the explanations concerning this issue can be somewhat vague or even contradictory (vague and ambiguous are synonyms). As a matter of fact, those notions are exactly what is making me have doubts in this case, considering that, even though the decoration and marks are part of the object itself, they are also found "on" the surface of the object. I am being led to believe that in this case "in" should be used due to the fact that the decoration/mark is something that is part of the lamp itself, but however, I still have my doubts. I am hoping someone can clear this "rookie" doubt for me once and for all. Thanks in advance.
    Your English is very good, but I have corrected some of the language in your question..

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    #5

    Re: Doubt using In or On (specific case)

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    Your English is very good, but I have corrected some of the language in your question..
    Thanks for your corrections, I really appreciate it. I do have a tendency to use a single "L" sometimes when I should use double, without even realising it. As for the single "R" in "referring", I have to blame my mother language for it. In Portuguese "referir" (to refer) is typed with a single "R" in all its forms and variations, and for that I also have a tendence to disregard the double "R" in this word and other similar cases. Concerning the "As the matter of fact", I really can't explain why I used "the" in there. But I really thank you for all those corrections your made, those are the small details that can still help me improve my English further. However, if I may, I need to slightly disagree with the note concerning "vague and ambiguous". It is true that they can be somewhat synonyms and are often considered as such, but they are not exactly the same in my opinion. From my point of view "vague" is something that is not clear, while "ambiguous" is something with more than one meaning. The main difference between the two words is that is "ambiguous" really is something that presents more than one meaning, while vague expresses uncertainty as to the meaning. But in any case the word "contraditory" that you suggested does seem to apply better to what I was trying to say.

  3. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Doubt using In or On (specific case)

    Quote Originally Posted by Lusitano View Post
    Thanks for your corrections, I really appreciate it. I do have a tendency to use a single "L" sometimes when I should use double, without even realising it. As for the single "R" in "referring", I have to blame my mother language for it. In Portuguese "referir" (to refer) is typed with a single "R" in all its forms and variations, and for that I also have a tendence to disregard the double "R" in this word and other similar cases. Concerning the "As the matter of fact", I really can't explain why I used "the" in there. But I really thank you for all those corrections your made, those are the small details that can still help me improve my English further. However, if I may, I need to slightly disagree with the note concerning "vague and ambiguous". It is true that they can be somewhat synonyms and are often considered as such, but they are not exactly the same in my opinion. From my point of view "vague" is something that is not clear, while "ambiguous" is something with more than one meaning. The main difference between the two words is that is "ambiguous" really is something that presents more than one meaning, while vague expresses uncertainty as to the meaning. But in any case the word "contraditory" that you suggested does seem to apply better to what I was trying to say.
    I agree with you about vague and ambiguous. In that use, they seemed redundant to me, but perhaps not to you. Cheers!

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