Possible Duplicate:
How small does a land-mass have to be before you live “on” it, rather than “in” it?

Seeing that the term Britain refers to an island, which of the following sentences (if any) is the best way to state the fact that one lives there?

I live in Britain.

I live on Britain.

  • @Jim: I think this asks a rather different question, as I hope my answer may show. Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 7:29
  • @Barrie England: I think this is definitely a dup. The answers and comments on the original specifically address usage with England, [Great] Britain, The British Isles, The United Kingdom, etc., Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 9:52

2 Answers 2


The island is Great Britain. Britain is a conveniently short way of describing the state known formally as The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It follows that 'I live in Britain' (as indeed I do), just as a French person might say 'I live in France'.

  • Thanks for your answer - it was as I thought. So it would be incorrect to state "I live in Great Britain" as that is an island and not a state or country? Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 7:37
  • @benni_mac_b: In practice, the terms do get confused, so you might well hear 'I live in Great Britain', referring to the political entity. If you were speaking geographically, you'd say something explicit like 'Those who live on the island of Great Britain are aware that changes in the weather can be sudden and unpredictable.' Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 7:48
  • Cheers Barrie thats cleared it up. Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 7:52

You could also say, "I live on the island of Great Britain", though it does sound somewhat grandiose way of saying it :D This is then describing that the object in question 'Great Britain' is being refered to as a geological/geographical rather than political/communal location. Leaving the "the island of" out infers the political state, moreso simply because of the amount of times it is refered to as such, and thus "on" sounds rather odd (and incorrect if we take the inference as concrete).

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