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She has been oversleeping on the train and missing her stops.

She has been oversleeping in the train and missing her stops.

Which is the correct preposition in the sentences above?

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    You are too quick to tick and accept the answer! Wait for others to give their opinion. But thanks for accepting. You can deselect this answer anytime (in case others come up with better and proper answer!). Cheers! – Maulik V Oct 31 '14 at 8:33
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    If I were to use this sentence, I would simply use sleeping, not oversleeping. Oversleeping sounds weird to me as a native speaker, and sleeping already conveys everything you're trying to convey. – Nick2253 Oct 31 '14 at 23:36
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It's a tricky question.

Generally, we travel by vehicles. Thus, "I came by car", even though you are in the car. For most public transport such as trains and buses, we do things on them. That is - 'We read books on trains/planes'

In your question, the medium of transportation is a train and thus, it'd take on as a preposition.

She has been oversleeping on the train and missing her stops.

However, in is possible if you further describe the location in the train.

She has been oversleeping in the train compartment and missing her stops.

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    This is incorrect, in general English uses "on" for these cases - probably short for "on board". You sleep in a car. You sleep on board a train/ship/boat/plane/etc. – Tim B Oct 31 '14 at 12:47
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    +1 I used to fall asleep on the train all the time. I used to get bored on the subway every day. It is hard to fall asleep on a cruise ship. I fell asleep in the dining car. – user6951 Oct 31 '14 at 13:47
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In British English we travel/go by most vehicles (train, bus, car, plane) but we sit, stand, read books, etc, on the train, bus or plane (but in the car) [see Swan, Practical English Usage (2005.81)]. We would therefore normally (over)sleep on the train.

  • This is true also for AmE. Notice we can also travel by foot (indicating method of travel?) and *travel on foot (indicating what, that we are "on" our feet?). Interesting. – user6951 Oct 31 '14 at 13:54
  • I think "by foot" is not commonly used. You're much more likely to hear "on foot". – David DeMar Feb 10 '18 at 7:10
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Thinking about aircraft, I fly on a large aircraft, in a small one. The difference is whether I can stand up inside; equivalently, whether I walk aboard or seat myself from a standing position on the adjacent ground. The same is applicable to boats. Trains have room to stand up, so one is always on them, even when asleep. These are the usages that feel right to me.

  • Limited to vehicles, as I don't sleep on my home. I suspect it's short for "onboard". – Cees Timmerman Oct 31 '14 at 18:30
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In addition to the other answers, as a native speaker (of American English), the preposition "on" in this context makes me think of travel, as in "on a journey". If I was sleeping in a train car that was sitting on some land, rather than train tracks, for example, I would use "in". I believe the reason is because it wouldn't be a vehicle in that case.

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As long as you use "on" for a bus, train, plane to travel, it means in/into. It doesn't necessarily mean its roof. (Keep it in mind that you get on a bus, plane or train; similarly, when you are travelling, you are on it). (Please see Macmillan or Oxford in this connection). So the correct sentence is "She has been oversleeping on the train and missing her stops".

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