Do you know the offical rule when to use ON and when to use IN. I was corrected today on the following sentence: "Put the file on semi-automatic mode" (this is a computer system file). Someone corrected me saying that I should use IN semi.... and couldn't explain why. I disagreed because I basically learned the expression as "jargon" at work and this person couldn't explain me why except to say he was right and I was wrong. Another came along and said because it is a computer file, you have to put the code IN the system (which makes sence). But what I really want to know is, was I that wrong???

"Can't take too much criticism!!" Emotion: embarrassed
I found the following in the dictionary:
"As the spacecraft came closer to the earth, it was put in(to) its re-entry mode."
"If you press this key, the computer will go in(to) its graphics mode."

I couldn't find any examples with "on" either in the dictionary or in my grammar books.
Hi Migo and Guest,

I did a little experiment.

I searched Google using the two following search terms (with quotes included)

1) "in automatic mode" - 25,100 hits

2) "on automatic mode" - 575 hits

"In" seems to be more popular. But is either more correct than the other?

I looked up both "in" and "on" using [url=" /"]Dictionary.com[/url] and found the following:


2. To or at a situation or condition of: was split in two; in debt; a woman in love.

Could we argue that a "mode" is a condition? Maybe.


8 a. Used to indicate the state or process of: on leave; on fire; on the way.

Could we argue that a "mode" is a "state"? Maybe.

I am not sure that there is a definitive correct answer.

Tough question, isn't it Migo? It certainly has me scratching my head. I think I use both interchangeably without even thinking about it.

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I'd say on as well, that's the standard. You could compare it to something else and argue either though, IN first gear, ON watch. Just keep saying what you're saing, it's what everyone else I know does.
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Yeah it is tough. My best answer is it has to do with where you are. Depending on where that is one or the other would be the accepted convention.