I was cleaning out the attic and found a box of cassette tapes that belong to my sister. For some reason, most of the tapes were out of the boxes and so I spent some time finding out which tape belonged in which box. I asked my sister if she wanted to keep them, but she told me those tapes belong with the rest of the stuff I was throwing out. I didn’t want to throw them away, so I decided that they belong on the shelf in the attic next to my old record albums.
Belong is an interesting word that can be followed by to, with, in, and on. The meaning depends on which preposition you use.
Belong to shows ownership:
- I found a box of cassette tapes that belong to my sister. My sister owns the tapes.
- That blue Jeep belongs to Jack. Jack owns the blue Jeep.
- Who does this iPhone belong to?
Belong with shows similarity; things should be grouped or connected together:
- This case belongs with that camera.
- She told me those tapes belong with the trash.
- That wine and this cheese belong with each other.
Belong in shows the place where something should exist or be:
- I spent some time finding out which tape belonged in which box.
- That knife belongs in the top drawer.
- Don’t leave the milk out on the counter. It belongs in the refrigerator.
Belong on also shows the place where something should exist or be:
- You are so funny. You belong on TV!
- Your jacket belongs on a hanger, not on the back of the chair.
- That vase belongs on the shelf in the dining room.
Of course, when you are describing location, you can also use belong with other prepositions of location such as belong near, belong behind, belong in front of, etc.
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