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I have an onion. I cut it in two.

As shown in the picture, you can see the flesh of the onion when you look at "the cut-side of the onion".

I want to keep the "the cut-side of the onion" in contact with the surface of the cutting board.

Is it correct to say "Cut the onion in two then place down the cut-side of the onion on the cutting board"?

  • 4
    Cut the onion in two and place it cut side down on the cutting board. Your version is syntactically valid, but idiomatically it simply wouldn't be used by native speakers. Some writers might put a hyphen between cut and side (and even feasibly between side and down), but I don't think that's necessary. Jul 7, 2021 at 17:04
  • 1
    ...{Here's](books.google.com/ngrams/…) the evidence from NGrams that most writers don't hyphenate here (especially not in both positions). Jul 7, 2021 at 17:10
  • Agreed with FumbleFingers; place down the X isn't a very natural phrasing for native speakers.
    – stangdon
    Jul 7, 2021 at 17:45
  • The structure may be clearer with commata: place the onion, cut side down, on the board Jul 8, 2021 at 4:27
  • 1
    It's fine, except "cut side" shouldn't be hyphenated in any of those sentences because it's an adjective followed by a noun.
    – gotube
    Jul 8, 2021 at 7:22

1 Answer 1


While "put down" and "lay down" are common prepositional phrases, they don't have anything to do with the position of an object after it has been placed.

To be absolutely clear, you can say: "Put the onion's sliced surface in contact with the cutting board."

The standard, brief way to phrase that is: "Put the onion cut side down on the cutting board." One could argue that "down" is redundant.

Brief and precise: "Put the cut side against the cutting board."

  • 1
    Put the cut side on the cutting board, not “against”.
    – ColleenV
    Jul 7, 2021 at 19:37
  • Of course. But isn't the cut side "on" the cutting board even if it's facing up? That's why I tried "against" -- there's no ambiguity, or so I thought.
    – user8356
    Jul 7, 2021 at 21:38
  • Against in this context is more like something resting on something vertical or being pressed to something else instead of it resting on top of something. For example, “Press the side of the blade against your knuckles.” (wikihow.com/Hold-a-Knife step 3)
    – ColleenV
    Jul 8, 2021 at 2:00
  • To me, "against" is unambiguously "in contact with" -- without a connotation of vertical or horizontal placement. So having the cut side of a vegetable "against" the cutting board is more precise than "on".
    – user8356
    Jul 8, 2021 at 13:53
  • The more concise way to phrase it would be “cut side down”, but it really doesn’t matter in terms of what people would understand in context. Telling someone to do something like place an onion on a cutting board cut side down doesn’t require a lot of precision.
    – ColleenV
    Jul 8, 2021 at 13:54

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