"top" vs. "the top"

I’ve had opportunities to come upon both variants employed in the same type of sentence, namely “to be on top of the world” and “to be on the top of the world”. Any idea what the rule behind it actually is? Also, what’s the difference between “at (the) top” and “on (the) top”?

‘The top’ is that part of the object, so ‘on the top of’ means resting on that surface. ‘On top of’ means ‘above’, so ‘on top of’ needn’t be resting on that particular surface. Envision a bottle lying on its side: you could place a ham sandwich ‘on top of’ the bottle by placing the sandwich on its upper side.

That being said, and because most objects have their tops uppermost, both phrases are frequently synonymous in intent.

Thanks, now that makes things much clearer. Anyway, I’ve still got the problem with the “at/on (the) top” part. What’s the difference in the choice between “at” and “on”?

BTW, since we have already started the topic, can we do the same with “bottom”? I mean “sth lies on/at bottom of sth else, like the bottle mentioned”? I don’t actually think so (I’ve never seen anything like it and I believe you cannot even say “on the bottom” as “at the bottom” is the only accepted form) but it doesn’t hurt to ask…

‘At’ and ‘on’ work the same way as they do otherwise: ‘at’ is a point reference, while ‘on’ is a location relative to a flat surface. Therefore, for relatively large tops, we would expect ‘at’ (at the top of the mountain) and for relatively small tops, we would expect ‘on’ (on the top of the table).

Well, we have on/at the bottom of the sea, on/at the bottom of the page, etc.

Please correct my sentences:
He is on/at (the) top of the hill.
He is on/at (the) top of topic.

According Mister Micawber, we have:

He is at the top of the hill.

He is on top of topic.


He is on (the) top of the hill.-- A small hill
He is at the top of the hill – A big hill
He is on top of the topic.-- This is an idiom and cannot change form.

Hello, Mister Micawber.

Well, I understood your examples.
However, this is a bit complex and I believe only in the day by day practicing, I can better assimilate the meaning.
A doubt:
And on the expression: To prune the top of a tall tree.
Is it correct?


Yes, you would cut some branches off, parts of the tree’s top.

Well, since Hensiq asked about a tree, I’ll follow that - are you “on (the) top of a (small) tree” or “at the top of a (tall) tree”? What I mean is that trees, unlike hills, are not as different in size as hills are.

If it’s you, then you’re in the top of the tree, since you are too heavy to ascend farther. A bird could be on the top of the tree.

Thanks, Mister Micawber.

So, now it is clearer!



Dear friend.

Now I ask you about all emails that I receive from english-test.net.
All tell me this:

[i]"Hello Hensiq,

You have received a new private message to your account on “www.english-test.net” and you have requested that you be notified on this event. You can view your new message by clicking on the following link:"[/i]

So, I follow this link and don’t has message.
What happened? What doing I wrong?
How can I get some help from?



It was spam, Hensiq, and when a spammer is banned, all of his posts and PMs disappear.

Thanks, Mister Micawber.

From now on I’ll always check the spam box!


No; it is not spam to your email address. It is spam to the forum here. When we find a spammer here, we ban him; his posts and PMs are thereby deleted, so although you received notice that you had a PM here, by the time you checked your PM box here, it was gone.

It’s OK!