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I am wondering about the usage of the verb "fill in" in the following sentence.

"Please fill in the form."

Does fill in the form means you need to fill in only the necessary item in the form? You shouldn't fill in all items in the form. How does it work?

  • No, it doesn't indicate how many/which items you will fill in. How do you suppose that might work? Anyway, usually a form has instructions on what to fill in. – user3169 Aug 14 '17 at 23:29
  • So, "fill in the necessary item in the form." is fine.? Webster dictionary says "fill in" means "give necessary or recently acquired information " Therefore the instructor in Japan say you should write "fill in the form" because it's redundant to write fill in and necessary item. Anyway thanks for quick answer! – kimi Tanaka Aug 14 '17 at 23:39
  • "Fill in the necessary items on the form." would be OK. on because you write on the surface of the paper. If all items need to be filled in then "Please fill in the form." is correct. But in reality some items may not apply to you, so you won't fill in those items. The problem is how you choose to define necessary. – user3169 Aug 14 '17 at 23:48
  • Thanks a lot for very specific explanation. Yes, the instructor uses the dictionary so they want to stick to the meaning in there rather than considering reality. I suppose it's important to notify what the necessary item is. Thanks!I'd appreciate it. – kimi Tanaka Aug 15 '17 at 0:05
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Fill in the necessary items on the form.

would be OK. Use on because you write on the surface of the paper.

If all items need to be filled in then "Please fill in the form." is correct.
But in reality some items may not apply to you, so you won't fill in those items. The problem is how you choose to define necessary.

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