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Searching for the difference between “in the way” and “on the way”, I found that the first means an obstacle while the latter means something in progression. This difference is always stressed, so I can’t tell which one to use when referring to “way” as a concrete noun, as a physic location.

-There are many ways that lead to the green lake. In/on one of these ways, a native woman is hunting.

-In/on the ways of Mojave, I became a better person.

Which one (in or on) is correct or preferable in this context?

Thanks in advance.

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  • (1) Along (2) A preposition won't work here. You want something like 'Following' or '[By] immersing myself in'. May 17, 2020 at 14:51
  • 2
    Note that, in the two examples, the phrase has two entirely different meanings.
    – Hot Licks
    May 17, 2020 at 18:45

2 Answers 2

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If the woman is moving along the ways to hunt, "on." Otherwise, it would probably need to be paraphrased to have its intended meaning.

If the person became a better person while traveling, "on" -- otherwise, "among" to indicate "in the place where those ways are."

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The use of either preposition makes the sentence confusing and difficult to understand.

Both in the way and on the way are set expressions, in which way is not understood to mean way in the sense being used.

The following all come from Merriam-Webster's definition of way:

in one's way or less commonly in the way
1 : in a position to be encountered by one : in or along one's course
     // an opportunity had been put in my way
     — Ellen Glasgow
2 : in a position to hinder or obstruct

on the way or on one's way
: moving along in one's course : in progress


The use of the singular noun way as used in the example sentence in the question, outside of these set phrases, has the following definition:

1 a : a thoroughfare for travel or transportation from place to place

But using either in the way or on the way (or even by the way, which is another set expression with a different meaning) will only cause confusion.


As such, and after eliminating these prepositions, the preposition that you probably want to use in order to emphasize the sense of way as location is at:

✔ There are many ways that lead to the green lake. At one of these ways, a native woman is hunting.

Since there is no set expression that uses at this way or at the way, the noun can be parsed out as something separate without confusion.


Alternatively, if the use of way will cause confusion no matter what, consider replacing it with something different such as waypoint. But even if you use waypoint, I would probably still use at as the preposition:

There are many waypoints that lead to the green lake. At one of these waypoints, a native woman is hunting.

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