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"Wal-Mart says it wants to double its stores in China by the end of 2006 to close the gap on its rival Carrefour. -CNN

I'm unsure if the preposition 'on' was properly used in the line quoted above. Shouldn't it be something like 'close the gap between it and its rival'?

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To "close the gap on something" is a valid phrase, when only the object ("something", usually a [proper] noun) is specified.

He wants to close the gap on the competition

If you use 'between' then you need to reiterate the subject as well as specifying the object

He wants to close the gap between himself and the competition

Using 'with' sounds a bit odd:

He wants to close the gap with the compeition

  • "On" is often used with connotations of competition and even hostility, think of "dropping the boom on" someone or even "getting medieval on his ass". – David Pugh Jun 4 '15 at 7:31
  • Closing the gap on, closing in on, catching up on (the runner in front, my paperwork, etc.), are all idiomatic phrases. – WS2 Jun 4 '15 at 7:43

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