on/at the top of something

linlon

Senior Member
mandarin
Hi,

When should we use 'on top of' or 'at the top of', e.g.

1.'After we ran up the stairs, we took a break for a while at the top of the strairs.'
Can we use 'on the top' instead of 'at the top' here?

2.'Put your books on top of the desk.'
Can we use 'at the top' instead of 'on top of' here?

Many thanks
 
  • MissFit

    Senior Member
    Hi,

    When should we use 'on top of' or 'at the top of', e.g.

    1.'After we ran up the stairs, we took a break for a while at the top of the strairs.'
    Can we use 'on the top' instead of 'at the top' here? No, but you could say, "on the top step" if you mean that you sat down on the uppermost step of the stairs.

    2.'Put your books on top of the desk.'
    Can we use 'at the top' instead of 'on top of' here? No that doesn't work.
    Many thanks
    I can't think how to explain why. Maybe someone else can give you a good explanation.
     

    Ecossaise

    Senior Member
    English
    ONpreposition 1 in contact with and supported by (a surface).

    ATpreposition 1 expressing location or arrival.


    So you arrive AT the top of the stairs and put the books ON the table.
     

    linlon

    Senior Member
    mandarin
    Hi,
    Thank you all for your reply. That means 'on the top of' and 'at the top of' are not interchangeable here?
     
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