Can you explain to me the usage of "on". Texts are:

  1. Chad felt dizzy when he saw the bones sticking through the skin. Dad coached him on how to pull his right forearm from the wrist and elbow until the protruding bone clicked back into place.
    "I can't do that, Dad!"
    "You have to, Spitfire. It'll be okay." Dad put a roll of gauze in his mouth to bite on. Tears poured down Dad's cheeks as Chad worked. At one point Dad reached over with his good hand and helped pull on the arm himself. Then Chad bound the forearm crudely with sticks and a vine.
  2. Chad was amazed, as always, at what Kate knew about radios. She was right. He needed no tools to get the radio out of the control panel. There were only a couple of wing nuts to loosen, and one had snapped off anyway. "They make these easy to get out," Kate had said, "because they're easier to work on in the hangar than in the plane."
  3. But no one could hear anything now. He wrenched the connection around and around, but all he heard was static when he tried to transmit.
    After the word spread throughout the stations that radio contact had been recieved from the crash site, the operator at Langda tried to summarize. "We've lost the transmission, but we and Koropun will stay on for another hour just in case."

Which work is "on" doing here. Why is it not enough to say "to bite", "to work", "to stay" without "on"?

  • The cases are all a little different. Sometimes the on is necessary: Kate will work on the radio, not "Kate will work the radio". Other times it's optional: Chad could bite the gauze or bite on the gauze.
    – stangdon
    Commented Aug 1, 2021 at 13:27
  • Bite on means grip between the teeth as opposed to taking a bite of food (to help him bear the pain). Commented Aug 1, 2021 at 13:33
  • @stangdon Interesting: "Kate will work on the radio" has two possible meanings: she could be a radio repair person, or a future broadcaster. "Kate will work the radio" suggests only that Kate is a radio operator.
    – JavaLatte
    Commented Aug 1, 2021 at 13:48
  • ...and stay on means remain where you are (often, after others have left). Commented Aug 1, 2021 at 14:00


You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .