a boat in the sea vs. a boat on the sea

dual light

Senior Member
KOREAN
Hello,

While I understand both 'a boat in the sea' and 'a boat on the sea' are OK, could I have your comment on the difference between the two, if any?
 
  • e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    In the sea suggests to me that the boat is sinking. We can say that a boat is low down in the water, but we normally say I can see a small boat on the water.
    But it's difficult to say what your phrases really mean unless you give us a sentence!
     

    dual light

    Senior Member
    KOREAN
    In the sea suggests to me that the boat is sinking. We can say that a boat is low down in the water, but we normally say I can see a small boat on the water.
    But it's difficult to say what your phrases really mean unless you give us a sentence!
    Thanks, e2efour. The following site shows a floating boat under the title 'how to draw Boat in the sea.' Is it not common?
    How to draw Boat in the Sea Tutorial Online: 123Peppy.com
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I have a slight preference for on. But if it is sinking, you would have to say in.
    See also http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=boat+in+the+sea,boat+on+the+sea&year_start=1800&year_end=2000&corpus=0&smoothing=3&share=.

    It depends on how exact you want to be and whether you think ships (or boats) are on the surface or partly on and partly below the surface of the water.
    There are times when in and on are not interchangeable:

    I saw a whale on the sea.:cross:
    I saw some children playing in the sea.:tick:
     

    dual light

    Senior Member
    KOREAN
    Thanks, e2efour.
    I agree with your preference for on. It seems that in the case of ships or boats, which to choose could be ambiguous.^^
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    It's not ambiguous, nor is "on" a mere preference. "In" is incorrect unless the sailboat is sinking, which it doesn't appear to be.

    I think that the text was probably not provided by a native speaker of English. The sponsor of the how-to-draw site is apparently a German firm with affiliates in various European and Asian countries. (This information appears only after digging through a number of links and sub-links.)
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I think that the text was probably not provided by a native speaker of English.
    The logo of the site graphically suggests two titles: "Kid's Best Hangout, no, never mind, Girl Best Hangout" which are both suspect as English even for a logo. :)
     

    dual light

    Senior Member
    KOREAN
    It's not ambiguous, nor is "on" a mere preference. "In" is incorrect unless the sailboat is sinking, which it doesn't appear to be.

    I think that the text was probably not provided by a native speaker of English. The sponsor of the how-to-draw site is apparently a German firm with affiliates in various European and Asian countries. (This information appears only after digging through a number of links and sub-links.)
    Thanks, Parla.
    At first, I thought as you said, but the site was confusing. Now I'm pleased to have your confirmation on the difference.^^
     
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