Can I write:

They aren't by the lake, they are by the hill.

My son had task in workbook to continue sentence

They aren't by the lake, they are by the ....

He wrote in such way

They aren't by the lake, they are by the hill

but his teacher told him that this sentence don't have meaning. I am not agree with her opinion. But maybe it's not right to use "by" with "hill". I have find answers on tasks on workbook and there was written:

They aren't by the lake, they are by the pond

What's difference between "hill" and "pond" in this sentence?enter image description here


3 Answers 3


There's nothing wrong with "they are by the hill", although it's a little strange when talking about people. It's fine with something larger, for example:

The hospital is located by the small hill on the east side of town.

People are usually on a hill, otherwise you might say something like:

They are on the ground near the hill

or various other possibilities. But "by the hill" does make sense.

  • Thanks for answer. Honestly I thought "by the hill" is similar "near with hill" and i can use it in such context. Apr 24, 2019 at 4:34
  • @НайдановаОльга Yes, the two prepositions are similar, but not exactly the same. Sometimes one will sound better than the other. With people, I would feel it's more important to specify they are either on or not on the hill, and then perhaps add more information.
    – Andrew
    Apr 24, 2019 at 4:37

"They aren't by the lake, they are by the hill." ✅

That is a correct English sentence. (notice the placement of the comma)

I don't know what the teacher is complaining about. Maybe the sentence refers to a story in which there is a lake and a pond?


Without any further context about the teacher's objection, she might have been talking about the use of the comma—which is a comma splice.

You have two independent clauses in that sentence:

They aren't by the lake. They are by the hill.

Normally, a comma should not be used to join the two together without the use of a conjunction. So, you would have this instead:

They aren't by the lake; they are by the hill.
They aren't by the lake. They are by the hill.
They aren't by the lake, but they are by the hill.

Sometimes, comma splices are considered acceptable if the clauses are very short and succinct—or if being used for deliberate stylistic effect. But if the teacher is applying strict traditional grammar conventions, she would consider the sentence to be poorly formed.

Note that if she has no problem with They aren't by the lake, they are by the pond, then I am at a loss to understand the distinction. (Although you say it was you who found that specific sentence in the workbook, not that she brought it up, so maybe there's an inconsistency between her and the workbook.)

  • I added picture from workbook, to show that problem is not in comma. In fact i think child should guess and decide that " pond" is definitly best choice. Apr 26, 2019 at 16:24
  • @НайдановаОльга Then I fall back to my last paragraph. It's not clear if the teacher is correctly interpreting the workbook—or perhaps something got lost in communication. Apr 26, 2019 at 16:36

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