111.2 IN Hawaii or ON Hawaii? (Bonus – Free Transcript)
IN Hawaii or ON Hawaii?
After posting this week’s episode on Instagram, one listener, Paula wrote:
Should we say in Hawaii or on Hawaii, since it’s an island, but then it’s also a state?
Oh, man, Paula, what a wonderful question, and I’m sure many of you were thinking the exact same thing.
When we say I’m in Hawaii, it means that I’m in the state called Hawaii. In most circumstances, when we’re talking about general location – so city, state, country or continent even – we will use "in".
- That woman lives in Europe, in Ireland. It does not matter that Ireland is an island. She’s in Ireland.
- He loves traveling in the Bahamas, but he also loves living in Bermuda. We see here, the Bahamas, it’s a bunch of islands and we use "in". In the Bahamas.
- Bermuda is also an island, but I say in Bermuda.
- We were in the Maldives.
- What about larger places? In in in. We were in Australia for a week, then in Greenland and then in Japan. Right.
So this sounds too easy, right? Country, state, city, commonwealth, were always using "in".
And once again, if you’re in Hawaii, you’re in the state of Hawaii.
But wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. In the audio, didn’t I hear on Hawaii? Yes, you did. Remember, Hawaii is not only a state, it’s the name of one specific island in the island chain.
When you say you’re on Hawaii, it means you’re on the island named Hawaii, on the Big Island. You’re not on Oahu. You’re not on Maui. You’re on Hawaii, the biggest of all of the Hawaiian islands.
So yes, you can use "on" plus "island name" when you’re specifying one – usually smaller – island of an island chain or archipelago. Usually, this is for clarification.
Listen to this:
Hey, where did you spend your last vacation?
We were in Hawaii.
Oh, cool, which island were you on?
Oh, we were on Oahu. Here you could also say in Oahu. That’s fine, too. Although "on Oahu," sounds like a clarification.
Let’s listen to another one.
Where did you do your last internship?
Oh, I was on the Balearic Islands.
Were you in Ibiza?
Oh no, we were on Mallorca. We could also say in Mallorca.
Here’s the one thing you need to know.: To use the correct preposition almost one hundred percent of the time, just use "on" when you hear the word island in the statement.
- He lives on Long Island.
- Not many people live on Roosevelt Island.
- We stayed in New York City, on Manhattan Island.
- We rented a house on the Channel Islands.
- They stayed on the Farallon Islands.
- We were on the Canary Islands.
- We were on the Hawaiian Islands.
Technically, when islands is plural, you can still use in, but don’t worry about that. If you say “on” when there’s “island” in the sentence, you’ll do just fine.
All right, it can’t get easier than this, right? Always use “in” unless you say the word island.
All right, you guys, I normally don’t say this, but I would avoid researching this topic online. It can be very confusing. I found that the majority of people trying to find the answer to this question are non-native speakers, and many of the explanations don’t make sense. The majority of sentences, example sentences, are also incorrect. So it can get pretty convoluted.
My goal is to help you speak correctly almost 100 percent of the time. So if you follow the rules I mentioned here, you’ll do just fine.
Listen to this audio one more time to solidify this info, and if you have access to Season 3, or want to purchase it at americanenglishpodcast.com then you will also have a quiz to test yourself on this.
So check that out and have a good one, guys!