EN: to work in/on

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catver

Senior Member
France, French
Good evening,

Is there a difference of meaning between "work on" and "work in" ?
For instance, can they be switched round in the following exemples?

-I work on car design
-I work in car design

-I work on industrial maintenance (I don't know why, but this one sounds weird to me)
-I work in industrial maintenance
 
  • Kelly B

    Senior Member
    USA English
    There's a difference in nuance, but it is subtle. For me, to work on is more concrete. I think it fits better with the present progressive to describe what you are doing now, I am working on (a) car design, and I'd use that to describe something that is one task within the scope of your responsibilities.

    To work in is a little more abstract, and I'd use I work in... to mean je travaille dans ce domaine.
     

    catver

    Senior Member
    France, French
    That's what I thought too Kelly B, but the snag is that the sentence "I work on car design" comes from a book on business vocabulary and is in the present simple, which makes it kind of general, not a one-time occurence as would be suggested by the use of the continuous form.
    However maybe the trick is to see it -as you suggested- as one task within the scope of other responsibilities, but in a more general way...
    Thanks for your help :)
     
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