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When people take a rest in/on the bed, do they lie ON or IN the bed?

(In my native language both are optional)

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  • If sleep and lie are the same (I don't know) then it's a duplicate. But as a non native English speaker I don't have the knowledge to say it confidently (that lie equals to sleep) – Judicious Allure Dec 27 '16 at 6:07
  • I believe the on/in distinction holds true for a few different verbs, to include lie vs sleep. – J.R. Dec 27 '16 at 11:07
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on a bed

on top of the bed and its bedding.

in a bed
in bed


(source: mirror.co.uk)

surrounded but the bed and its bedding.

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If you lie on top of the sheets, duvet, etc, then you are on the bed. If you get under the sheets, then you are in bed, and you can lie in bed, stay in bed, read in bed, sleep in bed, and do all those other lovely things "in bed" as you please.

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To lie on the bed.

To lie in bed.

To lie in the bed.

All the phrases are grammatical, with a difference in meaning.

You use the phrase "on the bed" when somebody is not covered with sheets or blankets. For example:

He lay on the bed (=on top of the covers).

You use the phrase "in bed" when somebody is covered with sheets or blankets. For example:

He lay in bed (=under covers).

You use the phrase "in the bed" when you are referring to a particular bed. For example:

There was no one in the bed (Longman Dictionary).

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  • What you say is true from an idiomatic perspective; however, from a technical standpoint, if you are in a bed, you are by default on the bed. – J.R. Dec 27 '16 at 11:05

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