ON or IN line 16

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lonesomecowboy

Senior Member
French
Hello everybody,

I need your help with the following :

when quoting a sentence from a text, do you say : "IN line 16 the author talks about his mother." or "ON line 16 the author talks about his mother."

From what I have gathered here and there, I have come to the conclusion that ON (line 16) is used in British English and IN (line 16) is used in American English. But I may be completely wrong.

Thanks for your help.
 
  • Beryl from Northallerton

    Senior Member
    British English
    I would be more likely to say, 'on line sixteen'.

    Though it may depend on the context.

    Q. How far have you got?
    A. I'm on line sixteen.
    Q. Did you find any taboo slang?
    A. There was something unrepeatable in line twelve.

    Let's see what others say.
     

    Lodzubelieveit

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    My initial reaction to the OP quote is that both are equally possible, with no confusion of meaning, but that I would personally prefer "in."
     

    lonesomecowboy

    Senior Member
    French
    Thank you both for your help. Beryl, I think I understand the slight difference between on and in. A few months ago a British native speaker told me I should say ON line 16 not IN line 16, which confused me a little as I had heard native people - especially Americans - use IN. Hence my post.
     

    Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    This AE speaker would use "on" in most contexts. If analyzing the meaning of a poem, I would probably use "in."
     

    lonesomecowboy

    Senior Member
    French
    Thanks for your additional remark Florentia52. Actually, I need to quote sentences while commenting upon a press article. So I need to say things like :" This device is not very efficient. For instance, in line 16 they point out that it is not foolproof and can be fooled easily."

    From the answers I have got so far, I have understood that when quoting the very content of a line it is better to use IN. Am I right ?
     

    Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    I would use "on" in that context, but perhaps that's because I do a lot of editing and am used to making such comments as "On line 23, you say the gizmos are available only in black, but on line 27 you refer to a blue one."
     

    kuleshov

    Senior Member
    Spain Spanish
    When I ask someone to spot a specific word or expression in a text, I use on line X because I am considering the line as an actual line, and on collocates with line. But if I am not doing this, and just thinking of the general meaning of a sentence for example, I use in line: In lines 10 and 11 the author tries to express blah blah blah.; as if the meaning was inside the lines... And obviously when you mention more than one line, it is no longer an "actual" line...

    I would say, for example, "Do you understand the meaning of facetious on the last line?" My listener(s) would scan that actual line to spot it.
     

    kuleshov

    Senior Member
    Spain Spanish
    I can imagine a group of people reading out a text, and someone asks, "Where did we leave off?", and someone else says, "At line 16."
    In this case, everybody would focus their eyes on the beginning of line 16, hence, at line 16...
     
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