General Writing and Grammar Help/At work - on the job

Advertisement


Question
Dear Ted:

Is there any difference between "at work" and "on the job"?

If so, when should I use each of them?

Would you please give me some examples?

Thank you,

Paolo

Answer
Dear Paolo:

Is there any difference between "at work" and "on the job"?

If so, when should I use each of them?

Would you please give me some examples?

*** In general usage, there is no difference between the two phrases.  Most people say that they are "at work."

There is ONE specific usage that is different.  In this country, when a policeman is not wearing his uniform -- he is in "plain clothes" -- and there is a crime, he calls out to the other policemen who ARE wearing uniforms that he is "on the job."  That phrase is used so that policemen who cannot be identified by their uniforms can inform their uniformed colleagues NOT to shoot them.  He could call out, "Don't shoot me.  I'm a cop."  However, policemen have their own "codes," and they tell each other that they are "on the job" so that they are identified as policemen.

Ted

General Writing and Grammar Help

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Ted Nesbitt

Expertise

I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

Experience

I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

Education/Credentials
B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.