Here is an example. Has the sentence used correct preposition?

Or can I change "on" to "in"?

The Nationalists’ coercive apparatus on Taiwan was also exclusive.

It will be more helpful if anyone provide answer with relevent example.

2 Answers 2


It really depends on the word(s) found before the preposition.

For example, apparatus is often something you can use on something else (in this case, it could be a nation's people, or that nation's culture or political climate, which can be represented by the name of the country).

So, to think of places where on would be appropriate before the name of a country, think of phrasal verbs that use on, or nouns that often use on.

That's how I managed to come up with these news quotes:

  • Why is a failed policy being pushed on Greece?
  • The Economist features a largely sanguine report on Mexico.
  • In its country profile on Chile this year, Lloyd’s of London wrote...

I think it's easier to find instances where the country's name is written in possessive form:

  • Investors should be focused on Brazil's efforts to curb inflation.
  • Analysts have expressed concern over the impact the wildfire will have on Canada's economy.
  • What impact would this have on Egypt's tourism sector?
  • What should I use here?
    – ARYF
    May 7, 2016 at 10:12
  • Are you sure the sentence in question belongs to this category? Doesn't it mean that the apparatus was inside the country and not something external to it? In other words: The Nationalists’ apparatus was the only power in Taiwan who might have used force.
    – ixSci
    May 7, 2016 at 11:00
  • @ixSci - No, I'm not sure at all, because there's not enough context to tell. I find coercive apparatus to be a pretty vague term; it could refer to something physical, or it could be used similar to the way we talk about a "political machine," which isn't really a machine like an engine, but a group of people dedicated to meeting some political goal or objective.
    – J.R.
    May 7, 2016 at 20:02

As English learner, I would say that in must be used here. I may mistake but you should say in some country but you may say `on some country's territory/policy'. For instance, "apparatus in soviet" gives 22 google matches whereas "apparatus on soviet" gives only 3

process of centralization of the political apparatus on Soviet territory

The Impact of the Shevardnadze-Dobrynin Apparatus on Soviet Foreign Policy

As J.R. reminds to us, when some country power is used within the same country, you say "in country". You say "on Taiwan", when some global power treats Taiwan as an object. So, both in and on could be acceptable. However, "apparatus on Taiwan" is not, IMO. The apparatus was imposed upon Taiwan, but, it was acting within Taiwan. There is a verb, like imposed is missing to say on Taiwan. Since the verb is missing, we imply that apparatus was acting or existing. It was not acting upon Taiwan. It was acting in Taiwan. Therefore, on Taiwan sounds wrong there, in my uneducated opinion.

  • I think because Taiwan is an island both forms are appropriate.
    – ixSci
    May 7, 2016 at 10:11
  • 1
    @ixSci J.R. has explained that this has nothing to do with the island. You can treat the whole country as object and impose anything on it. May 7, 2016 at 10:18
  • @ixSci Moreover, I think that the rule "use on the islands" is incorrect since I see 23 million matches for "in Cuba". May 7, 2016 at 11:38
  • Well, it might be incorrect to talk about a country and use "on" like "on Cuba" but I think it is correct to use "on Cuba" when you are talking about the island. So given the sentence from the question it might talk about the island and the country is just inferred from it since there is no other country on this island. Note, however that I'm not a native speaker nor I have any particular knowledge in this question — I'm just guessing. For example, in Russian it is also incorrect to say "on Cuba" meaning the country but people say that everytime maybe this case is similar.
    – ixSci
    May 7, 2016 at 11:49
  • The sentence itself is not clear and it's not easy to know which is better without further context. You should not use the definite article before Taiwan.
    – user24743
    May 7, 2016 at 13:55

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