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I am familiar with " at the end" and " in the end" constructions, but I have found in "English Grammar in Use" book, the following sentences that contain "on the end":

  1. Question tags are mini-questions that we often put on the end of a sentence in spoken English.

  2. Put a question tag on the end of these sentences.

Naturally, I would have used at instead of on.

What differences are between "at the end" and "on the end"?

Thank you!

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In general "at the end" is more natural. (For example, "In German the verb often comes at the end of a clause.") It seems to me that they have used "on the end" here because the question tag is something extra that you ADD ON. You could even use "onto" in this specific context.

  • +1 for "ADD ON". It’s a nice way of putting it. "On the end" tends to apply to lists or queues. Is there any reference you can use to support your answer? – Pam Mar 13 '18 at 19:59
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I like to think of prepositions as points in a concrete space. I then try to think of their abstract meaning in relation to that concrete position. 'At the end of the board' can reference a point at the end of the board, near the end of the board (very near the end). 'Put on the end' in physical space places it more toward the extreme en--on the horizontal or vertical end. Abstractly it would mean to attach it to the end. E.g. Putting more ice cream on my cone (additional ice cream where the first scoop ends). I wonder if that helps?

  • Definitely, it helps. Nice way of explaining, too. Thank you @PaulWilliams, too. I was wondering if you might help with some other specific examples. – Corinne Mar 14 '18 at 7:27
  • @Corinne Further examples would include "My wife added wash powder on the end of the shopping list" and "The shunter added another truck on the end of the train". However it is also possible to say "Hang the bag on the end of this stick" and "Press down on the end of the lever" which do not imply extending the object. – BoldBen Mar 24 '18 at 20:55

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