They are more conflicts arising while using In & On in a sentence. So I want to know some clarification regarding the usage of In & On in a sentence with a crystal clear example, because I'm in lot a confusion.

For Example:

I'm on train; In time; In tour.

I'm in train; On time; On tour.

My Question is : What is the meaning of in & on? where to use? how can we able to distinguish (Is there any rule, If available)?

Please do clarify me?

Note: I have gone through this. But have not get cleared still.


1 Answer 1


The words in and on are old words, coming to us over the course of over one thousand years from Old English. At times, in the development of the language, they were used interchangeably, which makes the history of their idiomatic use quite complicated. In has the basic meaning of within or inside, and on has the basic meaning of in contact, but the idiomatic usage of each is impossible to determine from this. Alas, you just have to memorize which word is used in which situation.

To make things even more interesting, the words have a broad range of meanings beyond the basic ones I mentioned. The OED finds over 40 separate meanings for in and about the same number for on. Why are you on a train but in training? Why can you be on tour but in a hurry? Why can you be both on time and in time?

Alas, no easily stated rule exists to tell us.

  • This answer is not just in the ballpark, it's right on the mark (although it's not clear in my head why the original question wasn't asked on English Language Learners).
    – J.R.
    Apr 16, 2016 at 10:20

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