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Is it correct to say:

He couldn't stand for long because of pain to his leg.

or should it be:

He couldn't stand for long because of pain in his leg.

or are both acceptable, or is neither?

  • In this context, "pain in" would be preferred. – Hot Licks May 18 '15 at 18:43
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    "...the pain to" is acceptable, if a little old-fashioned. – Edwin Ashworth May 18 '15 at 22:45
  • "pain in" sounds like an inner pain that comes from strain/soreness etc. where as "pain to" sounds like an external force delivering the pain. e,g. of pain to: A mace smashed the knight's armor with shocking pain to his body. – Crosscounter Jul 17 '15 at 19:27
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to would imply an external force exerting the feeling.

in would imply the leg itself is creating the feeling.

"Pain" is a bit uncommon when combined with "to", but examples can be had:

The impact of the baseball bat sent excruciating pain to his leg.

"Pressure" works easily in both cases, and may illustrate the difference:

He couldn't stand for long because of pressure to his leg.

A compression sock is applying external pressure to his leg, so he cannot stand.

He couldn't stand for long because of pressure in his leg.

The muscles and skeleton of his leg feel as if pressure is being applied due to swelling, but no "external" pressure is actually being applied.

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It should be:

He couldn't stand for long because of pain in his leg.

You can see a detailed article about uses of "in" at : Talk english

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  • Why isn't 'the pain to his leg' allowable? – Edwin Ashworth May 18 '15 at 22:43
  • Well, to me, it suggests that the pain travels to the leg, rather than from the leg to the brain. – Brian Hitchcock May 19 '15 at 8:11
  • A link to a generic page about a few of the most common (and versatile) prepositions in English is really not useful in cases like this. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 20 '15 at 19:07

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