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The result of a Google search for "error" and "PREP line" is:

  • "error" "on line": 439,000,000 results
  • "error" "in line": 60.600.000 results
  • "error" "at line": 35,800,000 results

While on is the indisputable number one, in and at have also very many hits.

In the following context, which one should I use.

__ the first line you create an instance of XXX and XXX leads to the runtime error __ the last line.

I think, both prepositions are different. Although the word create refers to the action which is executed while runtime, the former part refers to the actual code that is written.
In contrast, the latter part is figurative. I don't refer to the written code. The error does not really occur in the code but the code is the representation of the assembly which fails.

Thus, I have two bests guess:

On the first line you create an instance of XXX and XXX leads to the runtime error at the last line.

In the first line you create an instance of XXX and XXX leads to the runtime error on the last line.

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Line has so many different meanings that comparing "on line" to "in line" to "at line" using Google makes no sense whatsoever. You have to include more context. –  RegDwigнt Apr 23 '12 at 11:39
    
@RegDwightΒВBẞ8 Huh? The context is given. What is unclear? –  Em1 Apr 23 '12 at 11:40
5  
Nah, I don't mean you have to include context here. I mean you have to include more context when googling. '"Error" "in line"' will match any document with the words "error" and "in line" anywhere in it. For all you know it is about standing in line. And enclosing a single word in quotes is pointless anyway. Even a simple "error on line" (16.300.000) vs. "error at line" (5.210.000) vs. "error in line" (239.000) is already way more accurate. –  RegDwigнt Apr 23 '12 at 11:42
    
@RegDwightΒВBẞ8 Ah, ok. Good Idea. :) A specified Google search says e.g. "unexpected error occurred at line" and "unexpected error in line" and "see an error code in line 87". -> My new best guess: In the first line you create an instance of XXX and XXX leads to the error at the last line –  Em1 Apr 23 '12 at 11:50
1  
Speaking as a programmer, you don't typically see "at the last line" simply because it's usually faster/more accurate to put the exact line number, even if it is syntactically correct english. –  Neil Apr 23 '12 at 13:48
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2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

You may be unaware of the differences commonly implied:

error in line#: you made an error while formulating or typing the line. (parsing/interpretring issue).

error on line #: on reaching the line, you encounter an error probably being inconsistant with preceding logic. (logical/compiler error).

error at line#: likely the compilation or execution is interrupted/ aborted and currently, the pointer is at line#.

In your example, in for the first prep. and at for the second would be appropriate.

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I think the first instance should be 'in', since the instance is being declared in the line of code, and that the second one should be 'at', since the error occurs while parsing the last line. The completed sentence IMHO should be

In the first line you create an instance of XXX and XXX leads to the runtime error at the last line.

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