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I have a question about the usage of the prepositions "on" and "under". Let's say the context is colleges with semester systems and quarter systems. From this website:

Of the 48 contiguous states, 40 state systems (83%) operate on a semester system and 5 state systems (10%) operate on a quarter system.

, which suggests that "on a quarter/semester system" is standard English, and that "under a quarter/semester system" is not.

But then, I saw this example sentence for the definition of "system" in some dictionary:

def 3a: Under the new system, students will have to pass an exam to graduate.

So, which one of "on a quarter/semester system" or "under a quarter/semester system" is standard English?

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    Why would you presume that one sentence from one website that isn't about English grammar would imply that something is or is not standard English? Why do you think that "operate on X" should the same as "Under x"? – ColleenV parted ways Apr 23 '16 at 20:22
  • RE: ...which suggests that "on a quarter/semester system" is standard English, and that "under a quarter/semester system" is not. Absolutely not. The use of the preposition on may suggest that on could be correct, but it says nothing about the suitability of under. – J.R. Apr 23 '16 at 23:44
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They both are correct, and they are expressing two different situations.

The semester example is about condition of operation and happens to be about time

On a semester system
On a set schedule
On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays

In the second example, it is about being in a subordinate condition

Under the new system
Under the current laws
Under the watchful eye of the instructor

students, people, and trainees are subordinate in these cases.

The school runs on a semester system, and students are still required to attend class under the semester system.

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