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Suppose I am standing on the roof of a house. I pulled on one end of a rope, the other end of which is tied to a box. The box is raised from the ground as I pulled the rope until the box is on the rooftop:

  1. I pulled the box onto top of the roof.
  2. I pulled the box on top of the roof.

Is the "on" in sentence 2 wrong because the verb "pull" does not have the "to" sense. So, "onto" should be used instead?

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    Your #1 example seems to need the "the" for "the top of the roof" due to the presence of "to": e.g. "I pulled the box to the top of the roof", and "I pulled the box on to the top of the roof", and "I pulled the box onto the top of the roof". – F.E. May 12 '15 at 6:06
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In many cases, 'on' and 'onto' both can be used. However, what I suggest is when you have some 'movement' involved, 'onto' may work better (however, 'on' is not incorrect). On the other hand, when the movement is not there, using 'onto' is preferred over 'on'.

So, in your example, the movement is involved as you are pulling the box.

I pulled the box onto the top of the roof *(notice the article you missed)

As I said, using 'on' there does not make the sentence ungrammatical.

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    when the movement is not there, using 'onto' is preferred over 'on'. <== Can I assume you meant: "when the movement is not there, using 'on' is preferred over 'onto'"? – F.E. May 12 '15 at 5:47
  • Yes. that's what I think. @fe – Maulik V May 12 '15 at 11:35
  • Then would you please update your answer post (and then I'll delete my comment). – F.E. May 12 '15 at 17:13

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