punched <to/in/at/into/on/onto> the face / kicked <to/in/at/into/on/onto> the belly

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George1992

Senior Member
Hi,

I would like to know which prepositions are correct in a sentence like -> Look! She has just punched her to/in/at/into/on/onto the face and kicked to/in/at/into/on/onto the belly.

I think the correct prepositions are only to and in.

Am I right?
 
  • Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Usually we punch someone in the <body part>. (punch is a verb)

    Usually we deliver a punch to a <body part>. (punch is a noun)
     

    George1992

    Senior Member
    If I understand that properly, for the first situation (punch as a verb) I can say -> She has just punched/kicked/hit (or any verb causing pain) in the belly/head/arm/leg (or any other body part).

    For the second one (punch as a noun) I can say -> She has just given her a punch/kick/hit to the belly (or any other body part).

    Do you agree?
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    If I understand that properly, for the first situation (punch as a verb) I can say -> She has just punched/kicked/hit (or any verb causing pain) in the belly/head/arm/leg (or any other body part).

    For the second one (punch as a noun) I can say -> She has just given her a punch/kick/hit to the belly (or any other body part).

    Do you agree?
    That is close but unfortunately it isn't quite that simple.

    Example

    I hit him in the head. (Usually this refers to punching someone in a sideways direction.)

    I hit him on the head. (Usually this refers to hitting someone on top of their head with a downward motion, probably with an implement.)


    Suggestion

    Unless someone else can provide an exhaustive list or a cast-iron rule, I suggest you experiment with ngram. E.g.

    Google ngram: hit him in the,hit him on the,kick him in the,kick him on the
    https://books.google.com/ngrams/gra...,kick him in the;,c0;.t1;,kick him on the;,c0

    You can see the actual source texts by clicking on the links at the bottom of the page.

    Maybe you will discover your own rule!
     

    EStjarn

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    As an addition, using an asterisk in those n-gram queries can sometimes be quite helpful.

    For example, for "hit him * the head" we find that 'on' is the most common preposition, then 'over', then 'in'. Other prepositions are used, but are not as common: across, upside, about, upon, alongside, around, round.
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    As an addition, using an asterisk in those n-gram queries can sometimes be quite helpful.

    For example, for "hit him * the head" we find that 'on' is the most common preposition, then 'over', then 'in'. Other prepositions are used, but are not as common: across, upside, about, upon, alongside, around, round.
    That's very useful, I didn't know about it .

    You can also choose between AE and BE. For example 'upside the head' does not exist in BE.
     
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