Good day, my question is which preposition is correct? (OF/ON)

I hate co-workers who speak ill of me.


I hate co-workers who speak ill on me.

P.s: I already googled it just now, and there is no precise answer to this particular question I am asking. Tnx and pls. Help.

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    How did you "google" it? I just searched for define "to speak ill of" and got "About 138,000 results", the first half-dozen of which were all dictionary definitions. Searching for define "to speak ill on" got "About 3,850 results" (all junk, no dictionaries). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jan 19 '18 at 17:47
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    @JohnArvin Are you saying English prepositions frequently don't make sense? What a shocker! :D – Andrew Jan 19 '18 at 17:55
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    @Lambie: I think that FumbleFingers's point is that one can draw inference from the vast discrepancy in the size of google results. I.e. "speak ill of" is over 40 times more popular, therefore it is more likely to be correct. Additionally, since "speak ill on me" returns results for "speak ill of me", per your comment, "speak ill of me" seems more likely. – sharur Jan 19 '18 at 18:03
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    @sharur - That's well-said, but there is more to it than raw numbers. Sometimes fewer hits means an expression is incorrect, or unidiomatic; other times, it's perfectly fine, but it may have a different meaning and simply be used less frequently. Looking at numbers is a good place to start, but perusing the results can help, too. Are the hits from news articles and published works? Or blog posts written by people who seem to have poor English skills? – J.R. Jan 19 '18 at 18:29
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    @JohnArvin if you're going to learn English, you might well try to learn to recognize satire when you see it, and also how the use of emojis can affect the tone of a comment. My comment wasn't meant to be rude or mean-spirited, but rather a jest at how English is well-known for irregularities, idioms, exceptions, quirks, and completely random "rules' that English learners have to deal with. It's kind of a nightmare, which is why I'm happy to help out where I can. The flag itself is no big deal, but next time please consider whether the comment is laughing with you and not at you. – Andrew Jan 19 '18 at 21:10

"Of" is the correct preposition in this case, due to idiomatic usage of the phrase "speaking ill".

"Speaking of" someone or something means to mention them. "Speaking ill of" someone means to mention something bad about them. "Speaking on" X means that X is either a topic of conversation or that X is a platform on which one speaks (e.g. Skype, speakerphone, a stage, etc.).

Alternatively, if I were to make negative things about a person the topic of a speech or conversation, I could say "speaking on the topic of [insert negative things here]", or simply use "speaking ill" as a short hand.

Source: I am a native NA English speaker.

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