Difference between In The Way and On The Way

Key Difference: ‘In the way’ refers to something that is in the way of something else, i.e. it is an obstacle that is preventing from something from happening. ‘On the way’ refers to something that is on the way to somewhere, i.e. when someone is on a path or going somewhere.

in the wayIt can be easy to get confused between the two phrases ‘In The Way’ and ‘On The Way’, after all there is only the difference of one word between the two phrases. However, that one word can completely change meaning of the phrase.

‘In the way’ refers to something that is in the way of something else, i.e. it is an obstacle that is preventing from something from happening. For example: I was talking down the stairs, but a man was in my way. Here the sentence indicates that the man was standing on the stairs and was preventing the speaker from walking down the stairs, i.e. that person was an obstacle or in the way of the speaker.

‘On the way’ refers to something that is on the way to somewhere, i.e. when someone is on a path or going somewhere. For example: I was on my way to visit my friend. Here the sentence indicates that the speaker was going to visit a friend. The speaker was in the process of actually going there.

on the wayLet’s consider another example:

Mary was on the way to shake hands with her favorite singer, but another fan was in the way.

The example states that Mary was going to meet her favorite singer with the intention of shaking hands with her, but someone else was blocking her path, preventing her from meeting her.  

Comparison between In The Way and On The Way:

 

In The Way

On The Way

Definition

In the way of

In the course of a journey.

Description

Something was in the way of something else

Someone or something was going somewhere else

Synonyms

Obstacle

Journey, travel

Examples

She was in my way.

The chair was in the way of the closet.

I left because I felt that I was just in their way.

She can’t dance because the table is in the way.

She was on the way to meet her.

The bus is on the way to the bus stop.

The package should be on its way.

I have to run a few errands on my way home.

We could leave early and have breakfast on the way.

Reference: Dictionary.com, Oxford Dictionaries, Learners Dictionary, Cambridge Dictionary
Image Courtesy: dafont.com, vimeo.com

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