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There are a few people sharing a same bed.

Is it correct to say "don't lie on my spot, get off please" or "don't lie in my spot, get out please"?

There is an area on the floor of a room that has some dirt.

Is it correct to say "don't step on that spot" or "don't step in that spot"?

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We generally use spot in sentences that describe the properties of particular location:

This would be a perfect spot for a picnic

It is relatively uncommon in England for people other than couples to share a bed. For couples, each person has their own side, so they might say:

Don't lie on my side! Get off, please!

or better

That's my side! Move over! [to the other side].

In times gone by, when families were larger, sometimes several children would sleep in the same bed. There is a children's song about it- "Ten in the bed". In the song, the smallest child tells the other children to roll over- ie to move further across the bed.

When families sit down together for dinner, each child usually has an assigned place. If a child sat in the wrong place, the rightful owner would say:

That's my place! Move!
That's my place! Get off [my chair]!

As for the dirt, somebody would probably refer to the dirt rather than the place where it is:

Don't step in that dirt!

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  • So, if there are 2 people on the bed, we can say "don't lie on my side". But if there are 3 people on the bed, can the middle one say "don't lie on my side" or "don't lie in my middle"? Also, what about 4/5/6 etc people on the bed? – Tom Dec 16 '20 at 7:19
  • "Don't lie in my middle" is quite inappropriate - a person's middle is the area round their waist! They might say something like "Hey, that's my place/spot/bit - move up!" (I imagine you would speak pretty informally to someone you were going to share a bed with!) – Kate Bunting Dec 16 '20 at 9:11
  • @Tom, As I explained, three people in one bed would be unusual in England (apart from occasional incursions of children into their parent's bed): that's why I gave the example of people sitting at a table for dinner, where the term my place would be appropriate. – JavaLatte Dec 16 '20 at 10:29
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Don't lie on that spot, get off please.

Here, on that spot sounds off, though it's technically correct. It's better if you could just directly mention what that spot is.

Don't lie on that bed/bench. Get off, please.

As for 'Don't step in that spot', it is wrong because you physically can't step in a spot. You can step on it. You can step in dung or something with depth to it. You could also say, don't put me in a spot, but it's not a physical spot we're talking about here.

Generally, you use 'in' where there are depth and bounds, and 'on' when there is more free space, in this context. That's why we use 'sit on a sofa' because there's always additional space after one sits on a sofa. If it's an armed chair, we use sit in that chair, but if it's an arm-less chair, we use sit on a chair. We say in the kitchen because it has bounds. We say in the cricket ground if the ground has clearly defined limits. We say on the playground if the ground doesn't have visible limits like when children play on the village-side grounds.

So if that spot you're talking about has depth and bounds, then you can say, 'Don't swim in my pool, get out please.' Streets, or beds, etc can get the preposition 'in' depending on the context.

He's walking on the street means you're generally walking on that street without much importance to anything else.

He is walking in the street means, you're hinting that the street is busy with traffic.

Sleeping on the bed means plainly sleeping without covers.

Sleeping in the bed means sleeping under covers.

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  • In the dictionary, they say "children shouting and running in the playground" (ldoceonline.com/dictionary/playground). Is that because there are many objects there (swing, rocking horse, climbing frames, slides, etc) and that is why we say "in the play ground"? – Tom Dec 16 '20 at 7:23
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    @Tom "On the playground" also works. Grounds (such as playgrounds) are both surfaces you can be on and areas with defined borders you can be in. In this case (unlike the case of the bed) there is very little difference in meaning. – TypeIA Dec 16 '20 at 7:46

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