Which one is correct?

He plays games in his laptop.

He plays games at his laptop.

He plays games using his laptop.

  • 13
    I would say, “He plays games on his laptop/computer/GameBoy/phone/PSP/whatever”.
    – Janus Bahs Jacquet
    Aug 2, 2013 at 11:17
  • "He plays games with his laptop" is common as well.
    – zzzzBov
    Aug 2, 2013 at 16:58

4 Answers 4


The form I have encountered is:- He plays games on his laptop. I don't particularly know why - it just seems idiomatic.

Of the three versions you have suggested, the first sounds wrong, as it suggests he is inside his computer. I would argue that the second and third are both correct, though the third has a subtle difference in meaning.

  • 3
    If I was to hazard a guess as to why "on" is the appropriate word, I'd say that it's because, conceptually speaking, computer architecture tends to be thought of as a series of layers. Applications like games are at the highest level and therefore run "on" the platform and layers beneath.
    – tinyd
    Aug 2, 2013 at 12:28
  • 1
    No, idiomatically, this usage predates computers - think "on the phone" - and is used in a similar manner to "on the road" or "on the way", implying position of the subject.
    – Kyle Hale
    Aug 2, 2013 at 18:36
  • The second sounds incorrect when used with an action verb like "plays"; it sounds OK to say "he is at is laptop" or even "he is sitting at his laptop", but "he is playing games at his laptop" sounds like the action of playing games is being directed towards the laptop.
    – KutuluMike
    Aug 2, 2013 at 21:54

Although everybody already said that the correct usage is "He plays games on his laptop", I'd like to offer up a suggestion as to why that is.

One also says, "I'm on the computer" which I would say comes from the earlier saying "I'm logged on the computer".

I think the usage of on comes with the fact that one is on the computer, not with at or in.

Responding to "He plays games using his laptop" - This isn't normal, but could be fine depending on context.

  • 2
    +1 for mentioning how context might alter what sounds acceptable. At first glance, "He plays games using his laptop" sounds a bit unnatural to me. However, that could change, depending on the conversation. Consider this set-up: "Wow, this is an old computer! I can't believe your son plays games on this." "Oh, he doesn't. He plays games using his laptop." Suddenly, that sounds more acceptable for some reason.
    – J.R.
    Aug 2, 2013 at 17:59

I would agree, the most common form is "He plays games on his laptop" or "He plays on his XBOX." But, there is nothing wrong with "He plays games using his laptop."

While idiomatic, neither "in" nor "at" would sound right in most English dialects.

  • 6
    Your last sentence does not make any sense. If ‘in’ and ‘at’ do not sound right, they are not idiomatic—that is basically the definition of idiomaticness.
    – Janus Bahs Jacquet
    Aug 2, 2013 at 11:46
  • 2
    Most of us don't play games "in" the laptop – except maybe Tron.
    – J.R.
    Aug 2, 2013 at 17:53

He plays games with his laptop = He plays games using his laptop. No (Not really)

If you play games using your laptop, (which is fine grammatically speaking), to me it sounds weird. I imagine the speaker whacking a ball with his laptop. The laptop is being used as a tool, an instrument with which to play games. What you could say instead is:

  • He uses his laptop to play games (on). (This helps explains the purpose of the laptop)
  • He uses the laptop for playing games. (This helps explains the function of the laptop)

The only sentence NOT from the list which carries no ambiguity is the following:

  • He plays games on his laptop.
  • 2
    “He plays games using his laptop” does not automatically carry this connotation to me, though I can see where your interpretation is coming from. When you play a game on a machine, you are also using it as an instrument to play the game, just in a different way than an actual sports implement. “He plays games using his laptop” and “He uses his laptop to play games” are synonymous in this sense to me—both can be taken to mean he’s using his laptop to whack the ball, but neither is likely to actually mean that. Aug 2, 2013 at 12:28
  • @Mari-LouA Being a pedantic person(!), I could say that if "play[ing] games with his laptop" = "whacking a ball with his laptop", then "play[ing] games on his laptop" = "laying out the playing cards on his laptop", so it is not unambiguous!! ;-)
    – TrevorD
    Aug 2, 2013 at 12:48
  • 1
    @Mari-LouA, I was only pointing out that your reply made it seem like the ‘racquet’ interpretation was the immediate, automatic one for the phrase with ‘using’, which it isn’t. I have nothing against light-heartedness here or on any other SE site (I make plenty of jokes here myself), as long as they don’t end up misleading others, which I felt this answer might. Aug 2, 2013 at 12:49
  • 1
    @JanusBahsJacquet I wish to apologize for my rudeness. It is not your fault. We all have lives outside ELU and sometimes what happens outside effects how we see and read other people's comments. Please, accept my deepest apologies. I will now delete the comment, and I hope we can remain good "colleagues".
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 2, 2013 at 13:00
  • 1
    @Mari-LouA, no hard feelings. I just hope I don’t come across as someone who follows people around, pointing out their flaws for the fun of it. If I do point things out, it is only to ensure that the best possible answers are given. :-) Aug 2, 2013 at 13:59

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