If I describe a picture which we see a man and in/ on his background there is a sea with dolphins. What is the right way to describe it grammatically- in this context?

a) "We can see the dolphins on the background"

b) "We can see the dolphins in the background"

1 Answer 1


"In the background" is correct since the dolphins are part of the background of the picture. Also, if the dolphins haven't been mentioned before, you would probably want to say "We can see dolphins in the background" (not "the dolphins"). "The dolphins" implies that the reader already knows which dolphins are being referred to.

  • I agree with Andy. I might use "on the background" if referring to the image as an artifact rather than referring to its content, but "in" feels more natural.
    – JamesFaix
    Commented Mar 4, 2016 at 0:43
  • Could you possibly expand on why do we use "the" here? Isn't "background" a mass noun?
    – x-yuri
    Commented Aug 19, 2020 at 19:14

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