border on

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Senior Member
Hello there,

could you please tell me which one of my two dictionaries is right:

- one of them states that you need to say:
France borders Germany
but that you'd say
His behaviour borders ON insanity

- the other one states that you can also say:
France borders on Germany

Is "on" optional in the context of countries?

Thank you very much
  • TrentinaNE

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    Both appear to be acceptable in a geographical context, but I'm surprised that Merriam-Webster shows the "borders on" form, because I agree with meperson that "borders" without "on" is more commonly used in the U.S.



    Senior Member
    I've found the following sentence in the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary:

    The new housing estate borders on the motorway.

    According to what you say, the "on" should be omitted. Is this sentence alright?
    If so, to border on seems to work with real borders, too, not only in an abstract sense.....

    I'm totally confused now!

    it seems like a continuum. Borders on when addressing things with real borders sound weird. "The new housing estate borders on the motorway" sounds okay with "on" but better without. However, dealing with the abstract (insanity, say...) on is necessary.

    what do we get from this? english is more than a bit illogical.


    Member Emeritus
    British English
    I suppose it wouldn't be WRONG to say France borders on Germany, but it would sound weird and unnatural. Most people generally say France borders Germany or France is on the border of Germany.
    Personally, I wouldn't use any of those. I would say France shares a common border with Germany.


    Senior Member
    British English
    Dear Hese. I think it would be best to stick with "borders on" for behaviour etc, and "borders" for geographical things. As you know, dictionaries do not always reflect common, acceptable usage.
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