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For instance, I know that "being on the street" means being somewhere on the streets, while "being in the street" means being in the streets where cars are being driven. However, I am not sure if the same thing can be said with the verb "pee". So is "peeing on the street" equivalent to "peeing anywhere on the street" and "peeing in the street" equivalent to "peeing in the middle of the street"?

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  • No. There's still a distinction, but it's not the same one...
    – SamBC
    Mar 29, 2019 at 23:49
  • Being on the street and peeing on the street can both have multiple meanings. What would the contexts be in which the phrases are used? Mar 30, 2019 at 0:18

1 Answer 1

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  • "Peeing on the streets" describes the consequence of the action (urinating onto the surface of the street).

  • "Peeing in the streets" (or, more commonly, "peeing in the street") describes the location of the action (standing in the street while urinating). Note that the specific location (side, middle, right lane...) is not explicitly understood. You can assume "the middle of the street," though, because the idiom can refer to any location on a street, not just the physical middle.

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  • Is this like asking about the difference between crapping in your pants, and crapping on your pants? Mar 30, 2019 at 0:12
  • Should you provide some examples, it would be helpful. Perhaps there is more of Br\AmEn distinction? Mar 30, 2019 at 0:16
  • @MichaelHarvey, funny you should mention that. I originally had a couple of paragraphs explaining that "in" and "on" can flip context depending on whether contextually you do something "in" or "on" the location (my example used ships, specifically an aircraft carrier). I chose to delete that portion because it wasn't specifically an issue with the OP's question.
    – JBH
    Mar 30, 2019 at 0:20
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    I am still confused. So "peeing on the street" meaning the consequence of peeing, we can say "He peed in the street, which lead him to pee on the street"?
    – Sayaman
    Mar 30, 2019 at 0:52
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    @frbsfok, yes, you could say that. It's verbose, but completely correct. It makes sense when you think of it this way, "He peed in the street, but peed on a manhole cover." Manhole covers can occur in places other than a street, so the sentence is very clear about both what happened and where it happened. Note that a concise way of expressing that example sentence is, "he peed in the street, on a manhole cover." Using your example, "he peed in the street, on the street." Meaning he didn't pee on a car, or a pedestrian, or the painted stripes, just generally on the surface of the street.
    – JBH
    Mar 30, 2019 at 1:04

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