• Yaniv Iczkovits

Mistake-free Mondays - On the way or In the way

Prepositions (like: “on, in, at”) can be confusing for non-native English speakers. These little words are tricky because sometimes it’s the same in Hebrew as it is in English, but in other instances, it’s different than it is in Hebrew, and if you use the wrong preposition, it can change the meaning entirely.

For example, if I say “I’m at a play”, it means I’m at the theater watching a play. However, if I say “I’m in a play”, it means I’m one of the actors performing on stage. That’s a big difference, right?

So, let’s talk about the difference between “on the way” and “in the way” so that you don’t say the wrong thing to your boss. As I mentioned, in Hebrew there’s no difference between these expressions, but in English these two expressions mean two very different things.

“On the way means that you are in the process of getting to a certain destination. For example, let’s say I have a meeting with my manager at 11:00am, and he calls me on my cell a few minutes before 11:00 to check if I have left my office yet. In this situation, if I have already left my office I would say “I’m on the way”. Meaning, I have left my office and I am now in the process of getting to my manager’s office.

In the way means that there is an obstacle blocking your path. For example, let’s say I need to get something out of my desk drawer, but I can’t because your chair is blocking the drawer. In this situation, I would politely ask you if you could move your chair, because it’s “in the way”. The chair is an obstacle blocking my path toward opening the desk drawer.

Let’s try another example… What if we agree to meet for lunch, but you’re running late. So, you tell me to come to your office and wait there, while you finish up whatever you’re doing. I don’t want to interfere with your ability to do whatever you need to do, so I might say something like this: “Are you sure? I don’t want to be in the way?” Meaning, I don’t want to be an obstacle to your progress in finishing that task.

As you can see, being “in the way” can be either a physical obstacle, (like the chair), or it can be a non-physical obstacle, (like me possibly interfering with your progress).

Remember… you will probably use “on the way” when talking to your boss. For example: “Yes, I’m on the way” or “Is the customer on the way?”

Be careful not to tell your boss that he/she is “in the way”. You probably don’t want to call your boss an obstacle.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I hope today’s post has been helpful. Let us know… 

And join us next week for more helpful tips on Mistake-free Mondays.

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