I am confused about the usage of preposition in this sentence: “The cow is grazing ……. the farm”. Which one is correct?

1) The cow is grazing in the farm.

2) The cow is grazing on the farm.

  • "On" is correct. Prepositions are notoriously idiomatic. In the future, such questions are better suited to our sister site: English Language Learners SE. – Silenus Feb 12 '17 at 19:30
  • 1
    A farm is not an enclosure, so use "on". As opposed to "in the house" where a house is an enclosed area. – user3169 Feb 12 '17 at 20:00
  • On EL&U: Do you live on a farm? – Mari-Lou A Feb 12 '17 at 21:16

The correct way to say that is:

The cow is grazing on the farm.

This is simply because when talking about things situated on a farm, we always say on the farm. As somebody already mentioned in the comments section, prepositions in English are very idiomatic. That's just how it is always said and there is nothing you can do about it. You just learn the proper usage.

However, when we are talking about cities and towns, we usually say in the city or in town. I guess, the easiest way to understand why is think of what a farm and a city really are. A farm is just a plot of land and we think of land as being two-dimensional. And with two dimensions, we tend to use the preposition on. A city, on the other hand, is a three-dimensional structure: you've got high-rise apartment buildings, skyscrapers, maybe, a subway system, et cetera. With all that stuff, you need 3D space.

  • I suppose if you must, "on" is better than "in". But cows don't graze on a farm -- they graze out in a pasture. – Andrew Feb 12 '17 at 21:26

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