I read a sentence: The dog chewed on the ball.

Is this sentence different from “The dog chewed the ball.”?

If they are different, what is the difference?

  • 3
    For me the difference is in the type of ball, "chewed on the ball" suggests that the ball was so hard that the chewing had little effect on it whereas "chewed the ball" suggests that, even if the ball was not damaged, it deformed around the dog's teeth. Think about "chewed on a bone" and "chewed a steak". In human terms "chewed on a cheap steak" would indicate that the steak was horribly tough.
    – BoldBen
    Mar 1, 2020 at 15:35

1 Answer 1


If I "chew on a sandwich" there is no clarity that I finished it. e.g He chewed on the sandwich, decided that it tasted awful, and threw it in the bin.

However if I am found "chewing a sandwich" then it suggests that I intend to eat and finish it.

Perhaps it is a bit like this with dogs and balls. "The dog chewed the ball", sounds even worse news for the ball, than "the dog chewed on the ball".

  • @EdwinAshworth "When she put her hand in the biscuit tin she was dismayed to find something had been eating on the biscuits". Would you accept that? Perhaps more to the point does Google Ngrams, fount of all wisdom, accept it? Had she said "something had eaten the biscuits", the clear implication would be that they were all gone.
    – WS2
    Mar 1, 2020 at 16:12
  • Suppose I "chew on a sandwich"? If a dog can "chew on a ball", then it must be possible to "chew on a sandwich". I know, I will edit my answer and change "eat" to "chew".
    – WS2
    Mar 1, 2020 at 16:20
  • Hi, If the object is what's already in his mouth, He was chewing a mouthful of toast. Can I substitute "chewing on" here?
    – ForOU
    Jul 5, 2023 at 1:44

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