Does the usage of “on” depend on the noun that follows?

That dish is no longer on the menu.

His name was on the list.

I have the movie on DVD.

I sometimes go to work on a bus.

All shoes are on sale,

The band is currently on tour.

If I want to use on, do I have to look at the verb or auxiliary verb that I used before on, or at the nouns or objects that I’m going to use after on?


Sometimes the preposition is licensed by the preceding verb, sometimes by the preposition’s object, sometimes by both.

Trying to come up with rules governing the choice of preposition is hopeless. There are, to be sure, patterns; but every pattern has many exceptions, and you have no way of knowing whether a particular usage is regular or exceptional except by looking it up in a dictionary or corpus.

For instance: That dish is no longer on the menu and His name was on the list exhibit a pattern of using on with items which are members of linear sets. You might from this predict, correctly, This building has been put on the register of Historic Places and I couldn’t find his name on the ballot. But you would come a cropper if you extended this prediction to You may find that word on any dictionary or Try looking for his name on the index.

Almost everything about prepositions is idiomatic, governed not by a priori meaning but by historical contingency.

Source : Link , Question Author : Amish Aa , Answer Author : StoneyB on hiatus

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