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There are many types of barriers. Some have very small holes that only a human foot may fit in, some have quite large gaps between the posts enter image description here (see the picture)

If a person put his foot in a hole of the barrier with small holes and rest the foot on the bottom surface as shown in the above picture, can we say "don't put the foot in the barrier, please!"?

If a person put his foot on the rail of the barrier with large gaps between the posts and rest the foot on the bottom surface as shown in the above picture, can we say "don't put the foot on the barrier, please!"?

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  • As a side note, I wouldn't say "the foot" unless the foot is not attached to a person (like a prop or something). "Don't put your foot..." or "Don't step..." is better when speaking to someone or writing a warning sign. When speaking generally (not to someone) there are more options, e.g. "People shouldn't put their feet...", "Feet don't belong...", "Feet shouldn't go...", etc.
    – shader
    Sep 23 at 19:39

1 Answer 1

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There are many types of barriers.

Yes, and therefore it might be a little tricky to pick the right preposition in certain cases. For example, in your second picture, "on the barrier" does not work because the child's foot is going through the barrier ("on the barrier" would work if the foot was resting above the upper/top rod/pipe). But "on" is correct if you say that the foot is "on" top of the bottom rod/pipe/bar.

Perhaps rephrasing your sentence a little may work in all situations of this sort.

No, no, no, no, don't put your foot there.

But if you wish to be specific, then the following works for both the above cases:

Don't put your foot in there.
Don't put your foot in the barrier.

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  • In both pictures, the foot rested on the surface
    – Tom
    Jun 18, 2020 at 5:49
  • @Tom I know. Is there something in my answer that you don't agree with?
    – AIQ
    Jun 18, 2020 at 5:52
  • In the 1st picture, I agree that we can use "in" because the whole foot got enclosed by the thick structure around. But in the 2nd picture, we don't feel that the whole foot got "enclosed" because of the thin bar. See the similar example, People say "to put the key on the key chain", I think we can only use "on" for the 2nd picture.
    – Tom
    Jun 18, 2020 at 7:25
  • @Tom I don't think it has anything to do with enclosed. You can go ahead and say "don't put your foot on the barrier", but it won't be technically correct. The foot in the second image is not "on" the barrier. It is "on" the bottom pipe of the barrier. There really is no difference between the two images. The first barrier has a smaller opening and it has a thicker width. The second has a bigger rectangular opening and a much thinner width. In both cases, the foot is inside the opening.
    – AIQ
    Jun 18, 2020 at 7:41
  • But why do people say "to put the key on the keychain" (shop.universalorlando.com/images/…), why not "in"?
    – Tom
    Jun 18, 2020 at 9:04

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