Finding the right preposition is always tricky for non-native speakers of English. I'd like to know what native speakers think of these two versions:

(1) He was born on a bed.

(2) He was born in a bed.

Here, the "bed" is not a figurative bed but simply a piece of furniture for sleep or rest, typically a framework with a mattress and coverings.

Are both idiomatic and natural to native speakers?

Or is one more idiomatic and natural than the other?

1 Answer 1


> (2) He was born in a bed.

Sorta. Lose the article and rephrase it slightly adding more description:

He was born in his mother's bed as there were no hospitals nearby.

Describe the situation giving some detail as to whose bed and why a bed rather than the more traditionally Western, medical setting.

  • 1
    Also sounding natural to this native speaker: He was born in the back seat of a taxi. He was born on a sofa in the living room. He was born on a table in the kitchen. He was born on the deck of a ship.
    – Xanne
    Mar 10, 2017 at 4:36
  • Some people might say that home birth is the more traditional setting. Mar 10, 2017 at 5:18
  • 1
    @Cascabel: I KNEW this was coming. I made a slight alteration.
    – M.Mat
    Mar 10, 2017 at 5:21
  • Yeah, this place is full of weisenheimers. Mar 10, 2017 at 5:28
  • 1
    Is that 'weisONheimers' or 'weisINheimers?'
    – M.Mat
    Mar 10, 2017 at 5:31

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