grammatical expression: border on


Today, I’d like to write about the short expression “border on”. We use it when we want to say that something is almost as bad as something else. Let me give you some ways to use it in sentences.

I think borrowing something without permission borders on stealing.

You exaggerated how long it would take you to finish the project. That borders on lying!

That hotel named itself after a very famous and luxurious hotel, so they could trick people into staying there. As far as I’m concerned, that borders on fraud.

In my opinion, yelling at a child doesn’t border on child abuse; it is child abuse!

We can use this expression in all types of sentences, but it’s most commonly used in grammatically positive sentences. Sometimes, it’s used in grammatically negative sentences, as in my last example.

As you can see from my examples, after the preposition “on”, we always put a noun or a verb in the –ing form. This word is almost always negative in feeling. Also, please note that the situations described are usually very serious in nature. From my examples, “stealing”, “lying”, “fraud”, and “child abuse” are all serious and negative actions.

We always use this expression to emphasize that something is bad by comparing it to something worse. When we say something bad “borders on” a worse thing, we’re saying that it comes very close to being the same thing although there is a slight difference that makes it not quite as bad. For example, in my first example sentence, the meaning is: borrowing something without permission is bad, and it comes close to stealing, but it’s not quite as bad as stealing.

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