Only "in" is used in this context, where "line" = "queue". The choice of article depends on whether a specific line (queue) is meant.
"waiting in line" = "enqueued".
"waiting in a line" = "waiting in a queue".
"waiting in the line" = "waiting in the specific queue mentioned or alluded to".
"Online" (connected to a computer system) is a different thing altogether. This "line" does not mean "queue", but "live connection".
"Waiting in line" is the general way to refer to what we are doing when we are enqueued.Ok I understand the last two options.
But let's say you are waiting in line and you'r on the phone with your friend.
How would you say this ?
A: " what're you doing right now?"
B: " I'm waiting in line" or " I'm waiting in a line"
where would you use " waiting in line" with no article ?
We may also use "a" if we expect to say more about a line ("I'm waiting in a line. Up ahead is a ticket counter. The line starts to move. ...")
I also noticed that they can be used alternatively in this sentence:
" Waiting in line is boring" Most common.
"Waiting in a line is boring" Less common but almost the same meaning. More common if followed by something like "when everyone else in the line is a hungry stranger".
At least according to Google they are correct. Nothing incorrect since "line" is without adjective or phrase modifiers. Note: Google does not attempt to distinguish correct from incorrect.
But here only "waiting in line is correct:
"right now I'm waiting in line to buy tickets" More common, but "a" may be added, especially if you are about to describe more about what you see or where you are.
"right now I'm waiting in the only line to buy iPhone" Using the adjective "only" with "line" makes use of an article mandatory.
and "waiting in a line is more general :
"When I wait in a line I tend to read books" Not incorrect of course, but a little unusual since "a" is not really needed. Note "read books" as a generality. This is common usage even when only one book is being read. The writer might have added the "a" to make things seem less plural or perhaps one of the other reasons to use "a" might apply.
What do you think about my examples and my understanding ?
I didn't get this one.
Can't we just say
"I'm waiting in line. Up ahead is a ticket counter. The line starts to move...." Yes, this is OK too.
And how about the examples I gave in post #5 ?
And thank you for your help
And also with lines at Walmart, even though there are many lines I can say :
"I'm waiting in line at Walmart", right? This is more common than the usage with "a". In this sentence, "at Walmart" is adverbial and modifies "waiting in line", not "line".
I don't think I have heard it said in AmE. I have spent most of my life on the West Coast.I was thumbing through an EFL book and saw a section that talked about waiting in line. It used as an example "waiting in line" at a bank. It said that, while it is correct to say "waiting in line", some parts of the U.S. say "waiting on line" (specifically referring to a queue, not the internet).
I'm from the U.S. and I have never heard anybody of any U.S. dialect use "on line" in this way. I'm just curious if somebody else has. Thanks!
It's definitely in use in New York City, but what I have always wondered is just how common it currently is. I have heard both from native New Yorkers.