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I see three different versions on Indian media. The context is threatening someone to do some work forcefully.

Put a knife on my throat
Put a knife at my throat
Put a knife to my throat

I feel 'on' should be the choice. Kindly enlighten me.

Okay! Are those all three possible?

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  • If someone said "Someone put a knife on my throat!" I would picture their assailant trying to gently place a knife upon their throat (which would be an absolute bitch to balance). Having a knife "to" one's throat is the most common one I hear, but it would be just as valid to use "at". Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 13:05
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    @JohnC - On top of something else? I cringe when we limit the meanings prepositions as we try to explain them to learners; they are too flexible for such generalizations. (Consider, for example, "Hang the picture on that wall. Her house is on the beach. He needed stitches on his foot. She cut her finger on a nail and got blood on her dress.") Moreover, Google finds dozens of hits for knife on his throat, many from books, court records, and official criminal reports. The preposition "to" may be more common or idiomatic, but "on" is okay.
    – J.R.
    Commented Mar 16, 2016 at 9:42
  • @J.R. Okay, fair enough. I still don't like it. :-) Commented Mar 16, 2016 at 10:13
  • @JohnC - It's not my favorite, either; my preferences would probably be put a knife to or hold a knife at. But those preferences are merely rooted in what seems most idiomatic to my ear, not in some limitation of the word on. (If my wife told me a thief put a knife on her throat, I wouldn't picture him trying to gently achieve a delicate balance.)
    – J.R.
    Commented Mar 16, 2016 at 14:48
  • @J.R. Your last point is a good one. I guess I'm just stubborn in my application of prepositions. :) Commented Mar 16, 2016 at 14:52

1 Answer 1

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When an assailant puts a knife to your throat you have a knife at your throat.

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    When an assailant puts a knife on my throat, I'll let him use any preposition he wants.
    – J.R.
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 14:51
  • When an assailant puts the knife on your throat, do everything you can to prevent them from putting it into your throat.
    – MAKZ
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 16:32
  • Does it answer my question?
    – Maulik V
    Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 5:11
  • Yes it does. Put...to is used in contexts of wielding an implement or weapon.
    – TimR
    Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 9:43

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