Dear "native" teachers,

I've always come through preposition problems, but this is quite tricky. I've heard American and British evenly say "in the list" or "on the list". Which is correct? Or both?
Take for instance the following:

1) Is your name ON the list?

2) I put your stuff IN the list of things for shopping.

Thank you in advance for your clear answers.

1 2
Comments  (Page 2) 
I think what we really need to do is to look on the context. Language is dynamic and almost everything keeps on evolving. Such as with the English language, it's kinda crazy at times.
Then you would simply say "in a file" and refrain from using the word list.
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
No the paper is the list (the word paper can represent anything that could be written on in this example). Here's an idea, if your name was the first to be placed on a newly created list and there are no other names on the list, would you still use the word "in." Many people get confused because they keep thinking of an item being embedded with"in" other items on a list. You need to take this back a step further. That would be the fact that the item needs to be placed "on" a list before it becomes one of many within the list.

Do you place things in a garbage can or on a garbage can? Normally you place things in, and the garbage can engulfs it.
I say quit envisioning a list as a container and view it as a surface.

I apologize in advance if anyone becomes irate with what I've written.

Think of it like this:

You write ON a PAPER. You cannot write inside paper.

You put things IN the LIST. You wouldn't want to write on the words in the list or you would not be able to read the list.

Otherwise, you can use either one when you do not need to speak or write formally.

anonymousYou put things IN the LIST.

I have not heard this in the UK. Only writing on a list is familiar.

Teachers: We supply a list of EFL job vacancies

Did you see what they wrote in the paper this morning Emotion: smile

I was an English teacher for years, and in those days, the only preposition acceptable with "list" was "on." In fact, to write "in the list," was considered a mistake. It's obvious to me that the graphic idea that comes to mind when one talks about a list, is the flat surface of a piece of paper ON which the different items will be written. By definition, a "list" will never have the clearly defined boundaries for which we would unhesitatingly use the preposition IN, such as a box or a drawer.
It seems to me that in the current politically correct world, lots of people are bending over backwards in order no to have to tell those with a tenuous grasp of the English grammar that they are simply wrong.