EN: in/on the street / on the road

Discussion in 'French and English Grammar / Grammaire française et anglaise' started by Loic, Sep 12, 2006.

  1. Loic Senior Member

    Southern France
    French native speaker from France
    Could native speakers try and find the exact limits in the use of On and In the street ?
    You say " he lives on the street" but "I met him in the street. What are the rules to change from in to on and vice versa ?? I realize it's not all that crystal-clear to me :confused:

    Moderator note: Multiple threads merged to create this one.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 23, 2013
  2. hibouette Senior Member

    France and French
    the problem i think is the meaning of street :
    is it the part of road between sidewalks, the environnement , the community living in this hood....

    For your example :
    He is rollerskating in the park, in the street
    He is rollerskating on the sidewalk, on the road, on the street (i'm not sure it's correct to use street here in fact....)
  3. kalysara New Member

    FRANCE and french
    "on the street" est d'après mes souvenir, un terme utilisé aux USA et "in the street"en GB ou vice et versa

    désolée de pas être absolument affirmative a ce sujet,
  4. jb0284

    jb0284 Senior Member

    Essex (UK)
    English - British

    I would be more inclined to use 'in' rather than 'on' for most things.

    e.g. I would say: We went rollerskating in the street or The kids were playing in the street or We met by chance in the street (as opposed to on).

    If you say he lives on the street, it sounds as if you're referring to a homeless person (I wasn't sure if that is indeed what you meant...). Therefore, you wouldn't say he lives on the street unless you were referring to a sans-abri.

    Hibouette is right though; you would say We were walking on the sidewalk/pavement or He was sitting on the asphalt/tarmac. I guess if you're being specific about where in the street, then you would use on. Otherwise, stick with in.

    Hope that helps somehow! :eek:
  5. texasweed

    texasweed Banned

    French-born/US English
    It's not crystal-clear to natives either... Like the issue of posting on a Website on a forum and in a thread. Nobody seems to agree as to the proper word. I tend to agree with jbo284 but know that many natives would casually use "on the street" for rollerskating.

    Confused enough? :)
  6. encile Member

    Good afternoon,
    Can somebody tell me when to use "in the street" and when to use "on the street"?
    Thank you!
  7. banana pancakes Senior Member

    In the street refers to an object that is physically in the street. - i.e the children are playing in the street.

    'On the streets' is somebody who is homeless usually.
    You could say 'the pub on/at the end of the street'

    I don't know what else you would use 'on the street' for.

    There might be other examples I haven't thought of.
  8. Tartempion Senior Member

    UK English
    Another example - I live on the street next to this one.

    EDIT: it occurs to me you could also say I live in the street next to this one. So that doesn't help much - sorry :)
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2008
  9. claraet Senior Member

    I join the discussion because I have the same problem . Is it correct to say : in Regent street or on Regent street ? why ?
  10. nmsconsultoria Senior Member

    UK, English
    When referring to popular opinion one uses "on", as in

    - the word on the street is WordReference.com is the best
    - on the Arab street feelings are running high
  11. Tartempion Senior Member

    UK English
    I think generally on Regent Street sounds better. But you can say in Regent Street and it is still correct. I can't think of any specific examples in which you can only use 'on' or 'in'. I think you can use either, but I may be wrong.
  12. wildan1

    wildan1 Moderando ma non troppo (French-English, CC Mod)

    In AE only He lives on Regent Street would be said

    (He lives in Regent Street sounds like he has in a tent in the middle of that street!)
  13. Tartempion Senior Member

    UK English
    Personally I would say 'He lives on Regent Street' as well but I'm sure I've also heard people say they live 'in' a street rather than 'on' it. Out of interest, would you say you lived 'in' a road in AE? Or would it always be 'on' a road.
  14. wildan1

    wildan1 Moderando ma non troppo (French-English, CC Mod)

    only on a road. (and the road would usually not be in the center of a city in AE--that's a word for less urban settings--a road that leads out of a city towards another one. He lives on Detroit Road.

    Broader or more important city streets in AE are usually called Avenues or Boulevards. (I guess it's a French influence that came from somewhere!)
  15. Copacetic Member

    There aren't any specific rules for this. Really, you can say either "on" or "in".
  16. encile Member

    I'm amazed at the number of answers I got in such a short time, thank you all so much! What I get from what you wrote is that "on the street" is generally better and more common but "in the street" can also be used to replace it, especially in BE. Am I right?
  17. Tartempion Senior Member

    UK English
    I think so. Although it may be that I've heard people use 'in the street' incorrectly and have accepted it as being normal. Maybe someone more knowledgeable will be able to give you a more definitive answer!
  18. Algonzo Member

    London, UK
    English - Canada
    You say "I live on Main Street."

    You cannot say "I live in Main Street." This is not arbitrary.

    As another poster pointed out, if you say this then it will be understood that you have a tent setup in the middle of the street and you will most likely be asked to clarify what you mean.

    You can say these, but ON would also work:
    - The children are playing in the street.
    - He lives in the streets. (He's homeless)

    - Cars drive ON the street.
    - The lines are painted ON the street.
  19. johndot Senior Member

    English - England
    Algonzo, I cannot agree with your comments: there are many places in the English-speaking world where it is more usual to say ‘in the street’. London’s most celebrated fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes, lived in Baker Street, at number 221 B (for example). As London is host to so many visitors from around the world, English residents there don’t turn a hair when they hear some people say, strangely, “I’m staying at a hotel on Regent Street.”
  20. Algonzo Member

    London, UK
    English - Canada
    OK, thanks johndot. I suppose that it's a regional difference but "he lived in Baker Street" absolutely does not sound natural to me.
  21. bghansel Member

    New York City
    USA English
    You may drive on Baker Street, down Baker Street, up Baker Street, over Baker Street, but you stay in your lane of traffic.

    In New York I always say someone lives on 43rd Street, for example, or a store is located on Madison Avenue.
  22. ptitepimoussen Member


    Est-il possible de dire "there's a chemist ON New Street?" ou utilise-t-on uniquement IN?

  23. CapnPrep Senior Member

    Les deux sont possibles, avec des préférences (régionales, historiques, sociales, …) très variables. Personellement j'utilise presque toujours on. Mais dans une phrase où il y a le mot chemist je ne serais pas étonné de voir aussi la préposition in:)

    Ce post résume assez bien la situation. Il y a d'autres exemples et avis dans le fil suivant du forum English Only :
    Preposition: in the street, on the street, at the street? (à partir du post #19)

    Voir aussi (sur les forums Spanish-English) :
    I Live In Oxford Street Or I Live On Oxford Street
    In Wall Street.
  24. no_cre0 Senior Member

    American English
    Je ne sais pas si c'est le cas partout dans le monde anglophone, mais en Amérique, on ne dirait jamais "in New Street". ça serait toujours "on New Street".
  25. emd366 New Member

    English - USA
    My house is on Elm street. My car is parked on First street. (they are ON the side of the street, not IN the middle of the street)

    We usually say ON when the street is named. ON First Street.

    We use ON to say where something/ a building is located. The library is on Elm street.

    The children are playing in the street. (this means they are literally IN the street, not on the side, like the house) They are playing in the middle of the street and need to watch out for cars!

    with IN the street is not named.

    I met him in the street.
    We met on Elm street.

    He lives in the street.
    He lives on First street.

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