Consider the guy highlighted by the red circle in the following image:

enter image description here

to describe him, is each of the following expressions correct and idiomatic?

He is the horizontal position.

He is in the horizontal position.

In other words, is the word "in" required or omissible when talking about position?

  • 1
    The "in" is most definitely required. "He is the horizontal position" does not make sense. I believe most native speakers would be most likely to say "He is in a horizontal position" rather than "the" horizontal position. It would be understood to mean "He is laying down".
    – Paul
    Commented Jan 30, 2020 at 6:05
  • He's lying down, face upwards, so he's supine.
    – user105719
    Commented Jan 30, 2020 at 6:23
  • @Paul Thank you so much. Would you please move your comments to answer? I'll accept it.
    – zghqh
    Commented Jan 31, 2020 at 21:43

2 Answers 2


You would say "He is in a horizontal position", rather than "the horizontal position" which I think is incorrect.

For clarity, all of the people depicted in your graphic are in a horizontal position. You could also say "all of them are laying down" or "all of them are in a laying position". As @user105719, it's possible to describe someone as supine if they are flat on their back but I would say its unusual to hear this in everyday language - I think most people are more likely to say "he's lying on his back". The other people in the graphic can be described as "lying on their side" or "lying face down", in case this is useful to you!

  • In some parts of the world it is said "lying on his back" instead of "laying on his back".
    – CJ Dennis
    Commented Feb 1, 2020 at 12:56
  • Good catch! Thank you CJ - I have edited.
    – Paul
    Commented Feb 1, 2020 at 13:03
  • I'm not saying that people don't say "laying". They probably do, just not where I live. Google ngrams might shed some light on how often each word is used synonymously.
    – CJ Dennis
    Commented Feb 1, 2020 at 13:07

He is a person, not a position. So you can't say that he is the horizontal position.

You can say "he is horizontal", and that is probably what most native speakers would say if they are thinking about it enough to keep their thoughts concise.

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