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On the Market vs. In the Market: Understanding the Differences

On the Market vs. In the Market: Understanding the Differences

The major difference between “on the market” and “in the market” is the perspective of usage, where the earlier one is being used in sales perspective; to sell product or service on the market, whereas the “in the market” means to be present in the market with intentions to purchase something or just a regular visit.

The English language has a ton of rules that apply to different sets of words. It can get confusing sometimes, even for people with English as their native language.

In this article, I will be discussing the difference between the phrases “in the market” and “on the market”, as well as talk about the uses of the prepositions “in” and “on”

If you are “in the market,” you are trying to find something. Example: I am currently in the labor market or in the market to buy a new car. When you are “on the market” it means that you are trying to sell your own service or something else. Example: I am currently on a dating market or my car will be on the market soon.

Keep reading to know more.

What does it mean to be on the market and in the market

A marketplace with crates full of fruit

In the market” is used when you are talking about something that exists in a place that can be bought. For example, I saw the shoes you wanted in the market today. “On the market” is for when a product is available to be bought, whether in a physical market or a virtual one. For example, my house in on the market right now.

For the phrase “In the market”, the goal is to acquire something at the moment. This phrase is usually used when someone chooses and often wants to buy an item that is in a physical store.

For example: “I was in the market today and bought a fresh batch of oranges.”

Whereas the phrase “On the market”, it is referring to the market in which products are being sold. This doesn’t necessarily mean a physical market.

For example: “Competitor Name has the lowest price on the market.”

Usage here is idiomatic. “Market” does not mean a physical market such as an open-air fish market or vegetable market. Rather, it is an abstraction like an economic market. If the market is financial, such as a stock or commodities exchange, the usage is slightly different.

• Buying and selling stocks refers to the “stock market.” A concrete and abstract example is the “European stock market”. 

• A named market may be a proper name, often a natural entity such as the Paris Exchange or the London Metals Exchange (LME). Virtual markets are also markets. NASDAQ is a complete electronic exchange.

• “Commodity” is utilized as a descriptor to portray sort of market the type of market. Platinum options are traded on commodity exchanges such as the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) or  LME. Samgyeopsal is traded at the agricultural exchange (market). The Pork Futures side is listed on CME. The merchant himself is at the market to buy or sell pork belly. This is also metaphorical. It describes the intention to act, not the location. If a trader is in the market,  the trader himself will buy and sell! It is wrong because it is very meta for traders to trade and traders are not personal property.

Have a look at this video for a better understanding.

Is it a market or the market?

A market” in the most literal sense of the word, is a place where things are bought and sold. “The market” on the other hand, refers to a specific market. You use this under the assumption that the other person knows what market you’re referring to.

Prepositions are slippery and can change the meaning of a sentence.

  • “In the market” indicates that someone is checking something specifically for a purchase (eg, “I am in the market for a TV replacement”).
  • When you call your sweetheart and ask where they are, if they say “I’m at the market,” you’re literally buying groceries at the store.
  • If I’m looking for a house to live in, I’m in the market for a house.
  • When I sell my house, it is on the market.
  • If I’m at the shop window, I’m at the market.

 What does “At the market” mean?

A market full of vegetables

“At the market” means that the person speaking is located at the market.

If you are “on the market,” it means you are trying to find something. You have fired a few weeks ago and are in the job market or in the car replacement market.

If you are “on the market” it means you are trying to sell your own service or something else.

If you are “at the market,” it means you are actually at the market. “I buy vegetables at the market.” Other retailers may be considered markets, but in the United States, the word “market” is usually used to refer to grocery stores.

How does one use in and on?

When English speakers refer to a time and place, there are always three short words: in, on, and at. This common word is a preposition that indicates a relationship between two words in a sentence. 

Some prepositions that are easy for English learners to understand: for, over, under, next to, etc. 

But these two-letter small prepositions look confusing. Here are some rules to help you understand when to use in, on, and at in sentences.

To describe a  time and place, the prepositions in, on, and at move from the general to the specific.

Prepositions and Time

Let’s start by observing how we refer to time. English speakers use “in” to refer to more common, longer periods of time, such as months, years, decades, or centuries. For example, say “in April,” “in 2015,” or “in the 21st century.”

To use “on”, go to shorter, more specific periods of time and talk about specific days, dates, and holidays. You’ll hear “I was at work on Monday” or “Let’s go on a  Memorial Day picnic.”

Use “at” in most specific times and holidays where the word “day” does not exist. “Flowers bloom at Easter.”

Place and Promotion

“In” is used to refer to neighborhoods (I was in the neighborhood), cities or countries.

Use “on” for more specific places, such as a specific street. (He lives on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington DC.)

Refer to the table below for a clearer understanding:

InNeighborhoods (Chinatown), Cities (Washington), Countries (The United States) *Places with a Boundary
OnStreets, Avenues (Pennsylvania Ave), Islands (Fiji), Large Vehicles (Train, Bus, Ship), *Surfaces
AtAddresses (1600 Pennsylvania Ave.), Specific Locations (Home, the corner), Places


The English language follows certain rules that can sometimes make sentences confusing. In this case, it’s the prepositions in and on. Specifically, what’s the difference between “in the market” and “on the market”.

A “market” is a place where things are bought and sold, like the “supermarket” or the “stock market”. The phrase “in the market” is used when the speaker is referring to a physical market. For example, “I was in the market earlier and I saw this.”

“On the market” on the other hand, means that something is up for sale. “My car is on the market for…” The prepositions “in” and “on” have several different uses, often to talk about location or time. An example of their usage regarding time would be “It was on New Year’s day when we met” or “We met in December.”

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