22

Example:

It's a bit like a house that's built already and you can just move on in.

I asked a native speaker from North Carolina and he said that the sentence sounded absolutely fine to him. So, it seems like there is nothing wrong with this expression from a grammatical perspective. But I actually couldn't find it in any online dictionary. I don't know about you, but the wording does sound a little bit strange to me. When we say that we're moving on, it usually means that we're going further or progressing in whatever it is that we're doing. However, when we want to say that we've bought a new house and now are going to occupy it, we would just say that we are moving in the house. It seems like this expression is a combination of both. What exactly do you think move on in means and can you explain what is really going here grammatically? And please provide a bunch of similar examples with the exact same wording.

21

on is an adverbial modifier that suggests unimpeded or unhesitant movement (i.e. going and locomotion). In the US, with certain verbs it is regional while with others it is more widespread.

move on in is a southernism (and appears in southern-influenced dialects). The northern counterpart is move right in.

The Boston apartment was fully furnished, so we could move right in.

The Atlanta apartment was fully furnished, so we could move right on in.

Compare come on in... come on down ... move on out ... keep on going...climb on up... drive on over...swing on over... jump on in...

  • 1
    +1 for grammar, theoretical +1 for dialectal explanations, another theoretical +1 for additional colloquial expressions. I'm not sure that you could have posted a better answer! – Chris Cirefice Nov 30 '15 at 16:21
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    The New York apartment was missing a floor in one of the rooms and still cost $5,000 a month. – corsiKa Nov 30 '15 at 16:51
  • Is "move on in" considered formal in the south? Would it be written? As a native Brit, we would never use "on" in this context, except in an outrageous attempt to impersonate an American! ;) – MrWhite Nov 30 '15 at 20:04
  • I don't buy this being regional. – Almo Nov 30 '15 at 20:06
  • It's not formal in the South, but definitely much more commonly used. – Mark Phillip Nov 30 '15 at 21:16
12

"On" is used in this phrase to emphasize extra motion, extra speed, extra ease. An even more intensified phrase would be "move right on in", for essentially the same idea.

You can see this in a number of other places; for example, someone might "slap that sucker right on down" if they are vigorously slapping something onto a surface, or someone might instruct someone else to "pull that nail on out" if they want to nudge them to do so a little more aggressively. In all these cases, "right" or "on" are inserted immediately before the preposition or adverb in the phrasal verb.

I'm not sure off-hand just what phrasal verbs this is productive with, but the construction is not unique by any means.

  • "slap that sucker right on down" -- it is "right" that sounds more like an intensifier here. "on" and "down" seem to be just regular adverbs. What this says is that you are slapping the thing onto something. It's similar to this example: "Turn the lights off and then turn them right back on". Is it not? – Michael Rybkin Nov 29 '15 at 22:42
  • @CookieMonster: No, that's what "down" is for in that example. "Slapping X down" is enough. Both "right" and "on" are being used as intensifiers. That's my point. – Nathan Tuggy Nov 29 '15 at 22:54
  • So, in the example "Turn the lights off and then turn them right back on", "on" is an intensifier? That's how I should understand it according to you. But it's obviously an adverb that goes along with the verb "turn" (the whole thing is a phrasal verb, actually). Not offense, but you explained this very, very poorly. – Michael Rybkin Nov 29 '15 at 22:58
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    @CookieMonster: No. The same word can be used for different functions. If it's forming the basic phrasal verb, it's not an intensifier. It's as simple as that. – Nathan Tuggy Nov 29 '15 at 23:08
  • @Cookie Monster: I though Nathan's explanation was pretty good. In your example of turning lights on, the verb is not a verb of locomotion (only the motion of the wrist is involved). I should clarify my own answer since movement isn't specific enough. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Nov 30 '15 at 13:02
0

A house to "move on in" has two distinct meanings. The most literal and universal concerns obtaining the ability to move on in life, to achieve more. The second meaning is idiomatic and at present only an American or limited turn of phrase. It means basically making yourself at home with the minimum of fuss.

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Neither statement is clear, and language should always be clear. A house to move on in. Could mean A a house that it is possible to do more in or live a fuller life in. or B a house that can be moved on i'e' loaded on a truck and moved while you are in it. Which of the two meanings is intended is open to conjecture. Similarly A house to move in could mean A a house with room to move about in. or B a house to move into. (from outside) or even C a mobile house to be moved into a new neighbourhood

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    Welcome to ELL. Your answer appears to only consider the title of the question, and not any of the further clarification in the main question text. – AndyT Nov 30 '15 at 14:52

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