When do we say "in your face" and "on your face". When we literally refer to an object on someone's face; it's "on your face". Apart from this are there rules for the usage "in your face" and "on your face"?

Original Post

Hi, Angelica,

If somebody's face is considered as a surface where something can appear (be it an expression or something like spots or freckles or pimples), we use "on." We use "in" for expressions where somebody's face is considered as an organ involving more than its surface, or in expressions like "in sb's face" to mean "directly" (opp. behind sb's back).

In the Oxford Dictionary of Collocations we can read:

Oxford Collocations Dictionary for Students of English, 2nd edition
face noun
[...] 
preposition
in the / sb 's   ~
The ball hit him in the ~.
His eyes were sunken in his gaunt ~.
on the / sb 's   ~
She put some powder on her ~.
 
[...] 
© Oxford University Press, 2009
We use "in" for expressions where somebody's face is considered as an organ involving more than its surface, or in expressions like "in sb's face" to mean "directly" (opp. behind sb's back).

Hi, Angelica and Gustavo—I agree with your explanation, Gustavo, and would like to add a footnote about "in your face." As a native AmE speaker, I cannot hear "in your face" in isolation without thinking of its idiomatic, slang uses:

https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/in+your+face
https://dictionary.cambridge.o...english/in-your-face

As the Free Dictionary points out, "In your face!" can be used, rather rudely, as a stand-alone interjection, an "aggressive exclamation of triumph." This would NOT be a good way to end a polite debate in an online grammar forum.

"In-your-face," hyphenated thus (usually, anyway), is also used adjectivally, both attributively ("The in-your-face political art pieces shocked the public") and predicatively ("We need a slogan that is a little less in-your-face").

Last edited by David, Moderator

Add Reply

×
×
×
×
Link copied to your clipboard.
×