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I have check the outskirts entry in Cambridge's Dictionary and found out that I could use either on or in.

The factory is in/on the outskirts of New Delhi.

Since when have industrial estates become islands?!

But this sentence from this ELL book has puzzled me! Why would I use "on an industrial estate"? The natural choice is to use in.

Last year a new language school opened on an industrial estate on the outskirts of Saint-Jean-sur-Arc.

There are no examples nor comments about the "industrial estate" entry in Cambridge's dictionary; just the definition.

These two examples were quoted from COCA with "hidden in":

The elegant Dawoodi Bohra Shi'a Masjid in Northolt is hidden away in a London industrial estate.

And "work on":

This paper reports on an outbreak of abdominal pain and vomiting in 12 people who worked on a small industrial estate in rural Cheshire (in the United Kingdom).

Any comments?

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  • I searched for in|on|at near estate in COCA, and found 879 in's, 357 on's, and 200 at's. (Be careful, lots of false positive results.) I think it's probably because estate includes both the land and the buildings on the land. Nov 8 '14 at 14:58
  • Thanks @DamkerngT. On second thought, I think I know why "hide in an industrial estate". The answer is from the use of the verb hide. We hide in. However, one could find "hide on the roof"!?
    – learner
    Nov 8 '14 at 15:07
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don't know why, but it's always 'on the outskirts'

The factory is on the outskirts of New Delhi.

'in' just doesn't work for me, in that or all other contexts except...

The elegant Dawoodi Bohra Shi'a Masjid in Northolt is hidden away in a London industrial estate.

Perfectly describes the 'hidden' part of the sentence structure.

I cannot defend that in any real grammatical way, but as a native UK Eng speaker, that's the only one that 'in' works for. I assume because of the added concept of hiding.

Edit:
Of course.. it would still be perfectly contextual if that sentence ran, "...hidden away in a(n) (non-specific) industrial estate" on the outskirts of (specific City)..."

That wouldn't break my 'on the outskirts' at all

Edit 2:
You work in a factory on an industrial estate on the outskirts.
'Hidden in' is a red herring.

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The noun outskirts refers both to the border and to the areas at the borders. Both "on" (on the border) and "in" (in a place located near the border) are therefore correct. If something is on the outskirts, it is situated at border. If something is in the outskirts, it is located in one of the outlying regions. The thing is not in a different place. The difference lies in how the location is being perceived by the speaker.

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