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Posted by R. Berg on March 27, 2004

In Reply to: Preposition posted by modrijan on March 27, 2004

: : : : : : : Which preposition would you use when saying:
: : : : : : : He writes __the blackboard (or __the wall) all the day.

: : : : : : I would use "on", but since I'm basically a frenchie, wait for additional advice...

: : : : : I'd use on too!

: : : : I agree with "on", is it possible to use over or after?

: : : You could write all over the blackboard ie the writing would cover it all. I don't think you could use after.

: : This is an interesting question because (my linguist friend said recently) in some languages, the word that translates to "on" in English is used only when something is resting on a horizontal surface. It means "on top of." In English, however, we say "He writes on the blackboard," "I put a coat of paint on the wall," "There's a spot on the bathroom mirror."

: I will ask another way. It sounds good to me if "a climber is IN the wall AT THE MOMENT", but what if "the climber is climbing __the wall ALL DAY"? Can we put there OVER (but NOT with meaning ALL OVER the wall). My question is actually: Is there any difference between STAYING there or writing ONCE (ON the blackboard) and MOVING or writing CONTINIOUSLY (OVER the wall, OVER the blackboard)? Does OVER sounds right?

We don't say the climber is IN the wall. We say the climber is ON the wall or is climbing ON the wall. (We can also say the climber is climbing the wall.) Climbing OVER the wall means reaching the top of the wall and passing it, going to the other side.

How long the action (writing, climbing) lasts doesn't determine the preposition.