I read the below text in a book in which the author used the preposition "on" in a new way to mean "from."

she was brutally raped by a physician on the staff of the hospital.

I am familiar with similar prepositional phase, the movie on the watchlist; the killer on the FBI most wanted list, but I still find the above sentence different from these two examples.

Could anyone clarify such usages?

  • 2
    On the staff is a perfectly normal usage. Jan 23, 2022 at 16:12
  • Think of staff as short for staff list or payroll and all looks similar to your examples.
    – mdewey
    Jan 23, 2022 at 16:12
  • There are many contexts where prepositions like on, from, at, with are interchangeable. You can't always assign a very specific "meaning" to prepositions in English, nor can you assume there's only one "correct" preposition for any given context. Jan 23, 2022 at 18:03

1 Answer 1


It's routine to say "on the staff of X" meaning "one of the people who works for X". I suppose you could say "from the staff of X" and it would mean the same thing but that's not what fluent speakers normally say.

Prepositions are often a bit tricky in that you just have to learn what preposition is used in each context. Sometimes there no obvious general rule. Like we say that you ride "in a car" but "on a plane". Logically it would make more sense to say "in a plane" -- you get inside it; you don't sit on top of it. But that's not what people say.

In this case, we say that someone is "on the staff", not "in the staff" or "from the staff", even though those might sound logical.

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