She was sitting to/on/at his left.

Which preposition should I use in this context? Do they mean the same thing?

I found this post on the difference between "at" and "on", which gave me some clues in answer to my question, but I believe the different context (sitting at a table) requires another post.

On ngram all three seem to be used, though "on" more than the others.

To my understanding, the difference is the following:

  • Sitting at his left = right next to him, at a table.
  • Sitting to his left = not necessarily next to him nor at a table (unless known by the context), but near to his left.
  • Sitting on his left = not necessarily at the same table, but somewhere on his left.

Is my inference correct?

  • They all mean next to the person. And there is no distance difference at all. They all mean the same thing.
    – Lambie
    Nov 12, 2018 at 22:24
  • @Lambie I disagree. "Sitting to his left" is not necessarily right next to a person. You could say, "Mr. Johnson is sitting to my left at the end of the table" Nov 14, 2018 at 17:36
  • 1
    @GabrielLuci Sorry, I said they are the same. In fact, You can use all of them to establish distance: on my left at the end of the table, at my left at the end of the table, and to my left at the end of the table. End of the table changes it, not the preposition.
    – Lambie
    Nov 14, 2018 at 18:31
  • @Lambie Yeah..... I guess.... it would be understood anyway. Nov 14, 2018 at 18:42


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