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Could you please tell me why and when people use "on a magazine"? I thought it should be at but it seemed that many people use on.

Thank you for your reply.

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2 Answers

Work at or work for generally indicates the relationship between the person and the employer.

Work on is more about the relationship between the person and the work.

I'm working on [the latest issue of] a magazine means to be actively involved in the process of producing something.

Boss: "Have you written the article yet?" Journalist: "I'm working on it."

I'm working on a book (I have an idea for a book and I'm writing material for it).

I'm working on my backhand (in tennis, I'm regularly practising to try to improve this particular stroke).

I'm working on my brother (I need some help with a job and I'm trying to persuade my brother to do it).

Compare this with:

I work for The Times (The Times employs me).

I work at The Times [office] (I go to The Times office every day).

This is not a hard and fast rule but I hope it helps with some of the subtleties of why people might choose to use on/at/for.

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Working on a magazine is like working on a book or working on a new deck.

Working at a magazine is like working at a newspaper or working at a tavern.

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In the UK, we can say that a journalist worked on 'The Times' for five years meaning that the journalist was employed by the newspapaper. –  Barrie England Apr 13 '13 at 14:35
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@BarrieEngland As you probably are aware, that does not happen on this side of the Atlantic. –  tchrist Apr 13 '13 at 14:45
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Not even 'He was on the Wall Street Journal' for five years'? –  Barrie England Apr 13 '13 at 14:57
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@Barrie: I think that would be readily understandable, but I doubt many people over here would word it that way (as opposed to say, was at or worked for). –  J.R. Apr 14 '13 at 1:35
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