What preposition do I have to use here: "sipping water (...) your lips"?
I was thinking of from/off.

Don't mind the sense, it's about poetry.

Anything is helpful and general tips about prepositions are helpful as well

  • 1
    When seeking an answer, others will want to know what you have found on your own.. Please include your own research in the quuestion. – J. Taylor Jan 21 '18 at 20:09
  • The Ngram is undecided between 'in' and 'through'. books.google.com/ngrams/… Perhaps it depends on exact context and emphasis. – Nigel J Jan 21 '18 at 20:14
  • 1
    We also need more context: whose lips, and who is doing the sipping? Sipping water from your lips works if you're talking about some kind of kissing exchange of water, but not if it's just a regular drink of water. – 1006a Jan 21 '18 at 20:25
  • I have added 'sip from' to the Ngram but it probably means, usually, sipping from a vessel and does not involve two sets of lips.books.google.com/ngrams/… – Nigel J Jan 21 '18 at 20:51
  • @NigelJ please look at the results, the majority of instances "sip with" regards "SIP with", something to do with telecommunications. The "sip through" also has instances where sip is an acronym SIP, but otherwise it nearly always refers to straws. The "sip from" is from drinking vessels, bottles etc. I looked through 14 pages (here) before coming to the solid conclusion that "sipping [drink] from [one's] lips" is non-existent in English. – Mari-Lou A Jan 22 '18 at 9:13

The prepositional phrase (regardless of the preposition) ending in "your lips" is redundant and a bit comical in this context. By definition, we sip water with our lips. We may sensibly write "sipping water through a straw", but writing "sipping water with/by/through your lips" implies that you might just as well sip water through your nose or with your ears, maybe even lap it up with your eyelids.

  • But even if the lips are implied, how do i express that i sip through/from/by....(whatever) someone else's lips. Do you have a suggestion on this? thx 4 your comment – Chixx Jan 21 '18 at 23:59
  • Well, that's a horse of a different color, or perhaps I should say a lipstick of a different color. You would sip water from a glass with your own lips, but you would sip water from another mouth through someone else's lips. This latter action, though, seems to me practically impossible physically (not to mention terribly unsanitary). While you could certainly control the flow as you sipped water from a glass, I don't see how you could sip water from someone else's mouth without the sip turning into a gusher. – LuneKeltkar Jan 22 '18 at 11:47

I would use "with." Thinking of your lips as a tool.

For example:

I cut the tree with an ax.

You sculpted the clay with your hands.

Unless your goal is to express that someone is receiving the water from someone else's lips, in which case, either of your prepositions are fine.

  • Thank you, this was very helpful. Thinking of it as a tool is a nice metaphor as well, to express somebody helping you out with his lips somehow. But what I meant in fact is to express that someone is receiving water from someone's lips. So is there still any difference between using off and from in this case or in any other? – Chixx Jan 21 '18 at 23:53
  • 1
    @Chixx it would be helpful to edit that information into the question, as it's really not clear that's what you mean at present. – Carmeister Jan 22 '18 at 0:58
  • @Chixx It's dangerous to prescribe one answer to "any other" case, but for this instance, the difference between "off" and "from" are negligible. – nobejube Jan 22 '18 at 5:01

Through might work, depending on the context:

Sipping water through your lips...

  • Not exactly what I wanted to express, but helpful in another context. Look at my comment on the post below. Thank you! – Chixx Jan 21 '18 at 23:54

You sip (water) from a glass or a bottle.
You can say "I sipped the single-grain whisky using my mouth" but it seems pretty redundant to me.

He sipped at his beer thoughtfully
She paused to sip her tea.
He drank the whisky in sips
She took a slow sip of coffee

The verb sip means to ingest small quantities of liquid slowly, there are a couple of reasons for doing so: the beverage could be piping hot, the drink might be difficult to swill down due to its alcohol content, the drinker might be seeking to conserve it as long as possible, or the person might have a mobility impairment.

If the OP wants to include lips and sip in their prose, they could do the following

  • The woman, Cathy Hutchinson of East Taunton, Mass., was also asked to use the arm [mechanical] to drink the coffee. That involved picking up the bottle, bringing it to her lips so she could sip from a straw, and putting the bottle back on the table.
    Daily Herald (2012)
  • We sat for what seemed like an hour before the first sip of wine hit our lips.

Google produces only two hits for “sip through lips”, I would not recommend this phrasing.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.