"in the mountains" and "on the mountain"

He went hiking on the mountain.
He went hiking in the mountains.

What’s the difference in meaning between “on the mountain” and “in the mountains”?

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Hi there! the correct one is on the mountain, likewise you would say I sit on a chair, instead of saying I sit in the chair. On and In is different…and how about that sentence of yours; to be clear if you say he went hiking in the mountains, it properly meant that he was inside the mountains. “hope it help” but correct me if I am wrong.

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I’m sorry, but we go hiking in the mountains. You might climb to the top and then you’d be “on the mountain top” but we say we hike in the mountains, or have a home in the mountains.


Is it a typo?

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Yes, as you probably guessed, since I wrote it correctly the first time.


OKie here is a question for you Barb_D, how do you define the word hiking? what is it mean to hike? so you dig a hole on the mountain and then you hiking in there?

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No, it does not mean that you dig a hole.

You can say “go hiking in the mountains”, or you can say “go hiking on the mountain”.
You use “on” in this context to refer to one mountain (one specific mountain and nowhere else).
The expression “in the mountains” basically means “in the area where the mountains are”. Your hiking might include more than one mountain and also areas between individual mountains.

“We went hiking in the mountains” does not suggest that we went hiking underground.

I agree that it is very common to say “sit on a chair”. However, it is also possible to “sit in a chair” if the chair is an armchair or a recliner, for example. Look at this:
Roosevelt sitting in a chair

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Thanks Amy. I can’t think of a better way to have said what you did.


I think what’s missing in this conversation is the distinction between the plural and singular of mountain(s).

The large majority of times people use the plural mountains.

Mountains means a range or part of a range of mountains. The Alps, Himalayas, Rocky Mountains and Andes are all mountains. They consist of many individual mountain peaks, valleys, meadows, etc.

You would normally say you went hiking in the mountains. This is similar to saying you hiked in the park.

The only time you might say on the mountain is when you mean one specific peak, not the collective term mountains. Even with an individual peak, the word on is not always appropriate. On strongly implies on top of the mountain, rather than a lower elevation.