He was hit in the face.

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Senior Member
polszczyzna warszawska
Until recently I thought that we use on to "say what part of someone or something is hit or touched":


used to say what part of someone or something is hit or touched

I wanted to punch him on the nose. Matt kissed her on the cheek.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English

However, I have come across the following entry in a dictionary:

a. Within the limits, bounds, or area of: was hit in the face; born in the spring; a chair in the garden.

Could someone please tell me if the following sentences are correct and what the difference is between:
He was hit in the face.
He was hit on the face.

Thank you,
  • JamesM

    Senior Member
    Odd... I would say, "punch him in the nose". When striking the face, it seems to me that it's almost always "in": "in the eye/nose/mouth/jaw/teeth". "Cheek" is "on", but I think that's because "cheek" refers to the outside; it would be "struck in the cheekbone" if it were something like a bullet.

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Hi Tom,

    We can say either:

    He was hit in the face or he was hit on the face.

    The blow would probably be more superficial if one says on the face, because it seems to have bounced off, whereas there is a sickening element of prolonged contact suggested by in the face.

    The element of seriousness is illustrated further in the case of on the head. He was hit on the head. What by? Maybe a broom-handle. He was hit in the head. What by? Probably by a bullet; he'll be lucky to survive.

    P.S. I've just seen James's post. In BE I think we can say on the nose, on the mouth, on the jaw - or in each of these (in which case the blow is probably more serious). I've not often heard on the teeth: I'd say in the teeth.


    "He hit Raman on the face and kicked him in the upper thigh in self-defense."
    Is the above sentence fine?
    Can I alter the preposition 'on' with 'in'?
    Does it change meaning?
    Please comment.


    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    Yes, you can and, yes, it does.
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