Page:A Desk-Book of Errors in English.djvu/172

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A Desk-Book of

'only spoke" and did not scold him, which, perhaps, he might have felt his duty called upon him to do. "His father spoke only to him" means that, of all the persons present, his father chose to speak to him alone, but this sentence may perhaps be more lucidly expressed "His father spoke to him only."

on the level. See under level.

on the street. Compare in the street; on.

onto: A word meaning "upon the top of," avoided by purists as colloquial or vulgar. Condemned by Phelps as a vulgarism but now gradually growing in popularity. Inasmuch as its form is analogous to into, unto, upon, all of which are sanctioned by best usage, Phelps's condemnation is perhaps a little premature. The word has been objected to by some critics as redundant or needless. "Considered as a new word (it is in reality a revival of an old form), it conforms to the two main neoteristic canons by which the admissibility of new words is to be decided. (See Hall, Modern English, pp. 171, 173.) It obeys the analogy of in to = into. It may also be held to supply an antecedent blank, as may be shown by examples. It never should be employed where on is sufficient; but simple on after verbs of motion may be wholly ambiguous, so that on to, meaning 'to or toward and on,' may become necessary to clear up the ambiguity. 'The boy fell on the roof' may mean that he fell while on the roof, or that he fell, as from the chimney-top