“In” an island, or “on” one?

A reader in Portland sent me a lovely email complimenting an article I recently wrote, which had just posted online. The headline made me gasp: “A Local Shares Things to Do in Oahu.” It’s true, I’m a local to O‘ahu (which I spell the Hawaiian way) and it’s true that in the article I shared some of my favorite things to do there.

But “in” O‘ahu? This is one of my pet peeves. I most frequently see “in Maui,” but it doesn’t matter which island you’re talking about; non-locals don’t seem to get that O‘ahu and Maui are islands, not cities.

I did some investigating and found discussions on (not in) Grammar Exchange and English Language Learners Stack Exchange that tackled this vexing prepositional situation.

Thankfully, the offending headline of my article was online. I emailed my editor, she agreed with me, and—Presto!—the proposition was fixed. Curious? Read the article here.


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