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Why do we say ON a tv show but IN a movie? Options
jagh55
Posted: Sunday, February 26, 2012 4:08:54 PM
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For example, we say "Previously on Wallander" or "Previously on Lost", ect. If we want to talk about an actor on a tv show, usually we are going to say:

*Insert actor's name* is on *insert tv show*.

Kenneth Brannagh is on Wallander.


But when it comes to feature films we use the word "in":

*Insert actor's name* is in *insert movie title*.

Kate Winslet is in Titanic.



Mmmm Think I've always been curious as to why.
rogermue
Posted: Sunday, February 26, 2012 4:28:45 PM

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You bring up an interesting problem - the use of prepositions which in almost any language is not easy. In any case it is no systematic area with fixed rules - there are so many overlapping prepositions e.g. 'across the street' and 'over the street' - so many competing patterns - and so many special niches such as 'in a car' and 'on a train' and so many single expressions e.g. 'the house is on fire' - that you will never finish learning about the use of prepositions.

My personal view about 'on TV' is that the underlying pattern is from the theatre stage where it is normal to say
'on the stage'. The pattern was expanded in analogy to 'on TV' and similar uses. You even find 'on the radio/on the web'. But you never know for sure where the limits for such a pattern are.
FounDit
Posted: Sunday, February 26, 2012 4:43:33 PM

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rogermue may be correct as to the origin being from the stage.

I suspect, also, that it has to do with early television. Programs were not "in" the TV itself but picked up by antenna. They were "on" the channel broadcasting the show. There was a limited variety of programs that were, therefore, "on" TV and "on" different channels.

Movies were shown "in" the theater. Movie stars were "in" the story or "in" the movie (there was only one).

TV stars are not only "in" the storyline, but "on/in" the series, but one would say, "Previously on (name of series)..." because it is an ongoing thing.

That would be my guess.
weltreise
Posted: Sunday, February 26, 2012 4:58:41 PM
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We can runBrick wall but it is anyones guess. I agree a movie is usually an entity that remains the same in content so the actor is 'in' it, where as the TV show can change from season to season, segment to segment or series to series maybe that is why the actor or guest etc.are 'on' it
dingdong
Posted: Sunday, February 26, 2012 8:55:09 PM
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To back up FounDit: television is 'on air', never 'in air'. Good question.
rogermue
Posted: Monday, February 27, 2012 1:03:26 AM

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It would like to try to explain this matter with two patterns - but please understand this as a guess. (Language as a historically grown and complex system has a talent in keeping its secrets and often we don't understand how the system really works.)

Pattern 1: theatre: on the stage - actors are acting on the stage. As to radio, in the studio there is a kind of stage with actors (speakers) - as to TV there is again a kind of stage in the studios.

Pattern 2: English says: in the picture. Other languages can prefer "on" as e.g. German (auf dem Bild). In one language the picture is seen as an area (pictures are painted on canvas, in earlier times on wood, so you can see a picture as an area.
Other languages as English have the concept of space. A picture represents a space, so "in" is logical as well.

It may be that "in the film/movie/moving picture" the pattern "in the picture" prevails.

I am sure there are expressions where there is a certain uncertainty which concept to choose and where both prepositions are possible simply because the thing we speak of is relatively new and a fixed convention has not been reached yet.
Jyrkkä Jätkä
Posted: Monday, February 27, 2012 5:23:39 AM

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You can see someone in a video clip on YouTube.
Yakcal
Posted: Monday, February 27, 2012 9:30:34 AM

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Very good jj. Yes, you can certainly watch someone in a video on YouTube that you uploaded into you tablet after you downloaded it to you laptop while you sit in your seat on the airplane. When you arrive home you may get on the bus to go home or you might get in a taxi if one is available.Whistle
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Monday, February 27, 2012 10:44:48 AM

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I don't know about all BE speakers, but I use these slightly differently.

I would say "Joe Blow is appearing in River City on TV." - but "Bill Bloggs is on The Golden Shot on TV" or "Bill Bloggs is on Saturday Night Live".

This appears to agree with rogermue's 'thesis'. River City is a series, filmed on location (and partly on set) like a cinema film. The Golden Shot and Saturday Night Live are in the studio with a live audience, 'on stage'.

"on the television" is always 'on'.

Yakcal wrote:
Quote:
Yes, you can certainly watch someone in a video on YouTube that you uploaded into you tablet after you downloaded it to you laptop while you sit in your seat on the airplane. When you arrive home you may get on the bus to go home or you might get in a taxi if one is available.
Applause
You missed one!
"Yes, you can certainly watch someone in a video on YouTube that you uploaded into you tablet after you downloaded it to you laptop while you sit in your seat on the airplane. When you arrive home you may get on the bus to go home or you might get in a taxi if one is on call." Dancing
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