Which is correct? 1. They are pushing the car onto the road.2. They are pushing the car on the road.Thanks.

asked Aug 12 '12 at 05:14 May New member

3 answers


Either is correct, but have different meanings -- at least in American English. Sanjay correctly describes the mechanical differences between onto and on, but both Rahul and Sanjay miss the subtleties of their use.


To push the car onto the road means the car was off the road before the pushing started. To push the car on the road means the car was on the road both before and after the pushing. To push the car off the road means the car started on the road and was pushed off the road to the side.


Most Americans would say "they pushed the car down the road" to indicate the car was on the road and went somewhere.


Sometimes, only one preposition is appropriate with a phrase. This is most often true of with and for. However, prepositions that indicate placement -- in, on, onto, off, down, and others -- can each be used with the same phrase, but carry different meanings. 

link edited Aug 12 '12 at 15:06 Jeff Pribyl Grammarly Fellow

Excellent explanation. Thanks a lot. You have my vote, sir.

sanjayAug 13 '12 at 04:20

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Onto shows indicates movement from one place to another place.  Whereas, on indicates placement.  


 They are pushing the car onto the road seems to be the right choice.

link answered Aug 12 '12 at 07:17 sanjay Expert

onto is a transitive, dynamic, and therefore potentially emphatic, form of on. Onto is especially apt where a Subject makes forceful contact with a surface.‘The hostess’ in example below – can move onto a level surface along a level path, in which case all that survives of the notion of forceful contact is the notion of ‘movement into a location of prominence’: The hostess came onto the stage.

sanjayAug 12 '12 at 08:21

Great sir. +1

Rahul GuptaAug 12 '12 at 08:23


sanjayAug 12 '12 at 08:42

You have focused solely on motion. But placement is also appropriate in the context of May's sentence. Where were they when they pushed the car? On the road.

Jeff PribylAug 12 '12 at 14:26

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they are pushing the car on the road seems to be correct

link comment answered Aug 12 '12 at 07:46 william kadima New member

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