She felt as though she was on/at the threshold of a new life.

Could you cast light on this sentence? Which is correct?


I am not a native English speaker, but I think I can answer your question. To begin with, threshold means the entrance or beginning point of something and "on the threshold of" is an idiom and we can not change idioms as we like. Second, it is grammatically OK if we use "at" instead of the "on" in this idiom. The only difference is that the use of the "on" in the idiom is very common and sounds more natural and that of "at" is not common. He is at the threshold of a new career (Please refer to Webster's New World College Dictionary). As such, I think your quoting "he stopped at the threshold of the bedroom" from the Free Dictionary is valid.

Finally, I dare advocate the use of threshold with the preposition of at, though I think most of the people will take great exception to it as we are used to on. In fact, the use of on in the said idion is very wary. One of the meanings of threshold is a door, doorway or the floor or ground of the doorway. If we take threshold as a door, I think it'll be right to use "at" instead of "on" as the use of the "on" will make the sentence rather ridiculous. For example, there is a big difference when we say he was standing at/on the window, the guests were sitting at/on the dining table, he stopped on/at the door(threshold) of the bedroom, etc. How careful we have to be about the use of at/on! What I mean is that if we use "at" instead of "on" in all cases when we use this idiom, there will not be one iota of doubt or inappropriatenes. It'll not be out of place to mention here that most of the words used in the sense of beginning take the preposition of at such as at the beginning/start/inception/outset, etc. /tge

I'll appreciate any comments from the users of this site.


"Threshold" is used somewhat metaphorically as the starting point of an experience, venture or event.

We would use "threshold" with the preposition "on".

She felt as though she was on the threshold of a new life.

You can see another example at my above link. Second set (Collins), definition 3.

  • what about this one which I have extracted from free dictionary?He stopped at the threshold of the bedroom. – nima Sep 19 '14 at 17:13
  • 1
    This is a literal location. See definitions 1 and 2 of the second section in my link above. – JMB Sep 19 '14 at 17:14
  • The 126 COCA citations for 'at the threshold' mainly refer to the entrance to some place. The 229 citations for 'on the threshold' are a mix of that literal usage and the metaphorical one of the 'the starting point/beginning'. – tunny Oct 30 '14 at 17:53

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