I want to use the phrase "on-screen" correctly, so I have looked it up on online dictionaries and found it defined as an adverb or adjective but not a prepositional phrase which is a bit confusing considering the results I found in Google Books and the example in the Collins Dictionary which is:


  1. on a screen, esp a computer screen

A simple help menu is available on-screen.

If it is an adverb in the example above, then what does it change/describe?

In the Cambridge Dictionary, it means:

On-screen: adjective, adverb [ not gradable ] US

on the screen of a television or computer:

I easily adjusted the colors by using the on-screen menu.

As it means literally on the screen of a computer, would the sentence be correct if it was rewritten like this:

I easily adjusted the colors by using the menu on-screen.


Does in its original version act as an adjective, and would it act in the second one as an adverb or prepositional phrase?

The sentence I want to use the phrase in:

Her eyes would be set on-screen.

Is this a correct usage of the phrase, and what would it function as?

  • In your sentence do you want to say that her eyes were looking at the screen?
    – katatahito
    Jun 19 '19 at 0:14
  • Yes, that's what I want to convey.
    – Tasneem ZH
    Jun 19 '19 at 5:53
  • 1
    Then I agree with David Siegel's answer
    – katatahito
    Jun 19 '19 at 5:55

The phrase "on-screen" pretty much always means "something dsiplayed on the screen of a computer" (or in some cases a television or movie screen). Metaphorically, it can mean "directly visible" as in

The character Jones never kills anyone on-screen, but we learn of several off-screen killings.

This form could be used even of a novel, where of course nothign is truly displayed on the screen, because there is no screen. "on-stage" can be used in a simialor metaphorical way.

But if you mean:

Her eyes were looking intently at the computer screen.

Then "on-screen" should not be used, as her eyes are never displayed on the screen Instead, you could say:

  • Her eyes would be focused on the screen.
  • She was staring intently at the screen.
  • Her gaze seemed locked on the screen
  • Her eyes would be set on the screen.
  • Her eyes would be fixed on the screen.

or any of several other possibilities. All the above have very simialr meanings.

  • Thank you a lot! I will definitely go with one of your suggestions, but I want to know if my sentence with the proper correction would become valid, I think set is more or less an equivalent of focused so it would be: Her eyes would be set on the screen. What do you think?
    – Tasneem ZH
    Jun 19 '19 at 6:02
  • 1
    @Tas Yes, that works. I've added it to the answer. There are quite a few other possibilities with much the same meaning, too many to list them all. Jun 19 '19 at 12:14

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