7

I regularly hear the phrase 'in the saddle' but 'on the saddle' seems more appropriate as you are literally on top of it, (I'm using the original definition of literally there!).

I can sit in an armchair. A baby can sit in a high chair. I can sit in a car.

Up to this point, it seems that if the object you are sat in/on surrounds you in some way, then you must sit in it.

I can sit on a plane (at least I've never heard someone say "I'm sitting in a plane right now"!), which is weird because you're actually inside the plane!

But i can only sit on a sofa, no one ever sits in a sofa.

So what gives? Is it just the fact that one option sounds better than the other, or is there some deeper understanding of the English language that I am missing?

8

Both "in the saddle" and "on the saddle" are used. The difference lies in what you want to say. "On the saddle" is merely a description of the position, while "in the saddle" means "in control". I guess you could imagine an emperor sitting in his giant chair, compared with a commoner sitting on his/her little chair, for an analogy.

The same goes for "in the bed" and "on the bed". "On the bed" is a description of position, while "in the bed" implies in addition being covered by something (a sheet for example).

  • This answer is definitely in the saddle, thanks! – 3-14159265358979323846264 Aug 9 at 14:18
  • 2
    Generally speaking (there are always exceptions), on is used more literally, while in is used more figuratively. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Aug 9 at 14:23
  • I think one exception is what the op mentioned: "on the plane" vs "in the plane". "On the plane" suggests you are taking a flight, while "in" is more literally here. – trisct Aug 9 at 14:56

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.