Which is natural, fall into, fit into, belong to a category?

  1. Tigers fall into the category of "Big Cat".
  2. Tigers fit into the category of "Big Cat".

  3. Tigers belong to the category of "Big Cat".

Which one is better?

  • You could check on Google - try "belongs in the category" too. Sep 26, 2013 at 15:44
  • 1
    I'd say the "most natural" (certainly, the simplest) is just 'Tiger' is in the category 'Big Cat'. But all OP's variations (and many more) are "valid", and I think it's just a matter of opinion/personal style which to use in any given context. Sep 26, 2013 at 16:26

2 Answers 2


None of the predicates are "better" than any other one.
They're different, not better. They refer to different metaphors.
All of them refer to a structural part-whole relation, evoking different frames

  • fall into evokes a 3-dimensional container metaphor in a gravity field
  • fit into evokes a puzzle metaphor (2-D) or a building metaphor (3-D)
  • belong to evokes a possession metaphor

There are some problems with the noun phrases, however. If you're speaking about species in general, you're using generic noun phrases, and just plain tiger isn't good enough.


"Belongs to" feels more definite. Meaning that if "Big Cat" was only in that category I would use "belongs to".

"Fit into" and "Fall into" invokes visions maybe not fitting the category definition exactly but it works.

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