Stubbed my toe... which preposition?



How to say table was the thing I kicked into using stub?

Is it one of these?

A. I stubbed my toe by the table?

B. I stubbed my toe onto the table?


Posted 2018-09-17T10:19:06.640

Reputation: 1 405




I stubbed my toe on the table

But I’m assuming it was the table leg? So if you want to be more specific:

I stubbed my toe on the table leg


Posted 2018-09-17T10:19:06.640

Reputation: 560

2The leg is understood, as it's implausible to stub a toe on the table top. You would have to be doing some kind of kick, and we don't call that "stubbing". – Barmar – 2018-09-17T15:33:46.817

1"I was practicing my roundhouse kicks and crashed into the table!" is one example. – harperville – 2018-09-17T15:59:09.673

No @Barmar. It’s very plausible. You might be drilling a hole in the wall and standing on a chair that is level with the table surface. But yes - probably in real life you wouldn’t bother to say table leg. – MotherBrain – 2018-09-17T21:32:23.470

Lol I'm trying to imagine someone standing on a chair (a very tall chair, by the way, to be level with the surface) in such a way so as to accidentally stub your toe. – Cullub – 2018-09-17T22:13:07.023

It’s a tall stool, the table is low and narrow, by the wall. Maybe one you keep plants on. Therefore it’s easy to lean over it to do the drilling, but also easy to stub your toe on it. – MotherBrain – 2018-09-17T23:39:57.547


by is used to show the person or thing that does something. You can't really use by with a table in this sentence, because it's you that's doing something (kicking the table). You could use by about a table if, for example, it fell on you:

He was killed by a table that fell from the roof garden of the hotel.

onto is used to show movement into or on a particular place. for example:

He climbed onto the stage

One of the meanings of on is to show what causes pain or injury as a result of being touched, for example

I hit my head on the shelf as I was standing up

on is therefore the correct preposition to use in your sentence.


Posted 2018-09-17T10:19:06.640

Reputation: 43 538

"into" would also work for this case, as for a car crashing into a barrier for example. – Baldrickk – 2018-09-17T13:28:49.527

29While "I stubbed my toe into the table" is certainly understandable, It's not idiomatic and not something I would expect to hear from a native speaker. Using "on" is much more common. – Steven Waterman – 2018-09-17T13:42:55.277

14I think that this should be reordered a bit, when I first saw this answer I thought it was recommending "onto" as the preposition to use. Answering the question in the first line before going into your explanation helps avoid that kind of confusion in my experience. – Kamil Drakari – 2018-09-17T14:37:53.817

@KamilDrakari: the OP's question refers to by and onto: I have explained why these are not appropriate before suggesting a better preposition. – JavaLatte – 2018-09-17T17:09:02.273

7I stubbed my toe by the table could also be understood as I stubbed my toe (beside / next to) the table. (In the same way that I walked by the table does not mean that the table is an agent of some kind of action.) But while it is usable here, it's not usable in the sense that's been asked in the question itself. – Jason Bassford – 2018-09-17T17:47:03.623

@JavaLatte re: the order of the answer. You are right, but so is KamilDrakari. Maybe a tl;dr at the top? – mcalex – 2018-09-18T08:27:25.680


According to Wordreference and the Collins English dictionary you can also use "against":

I stubbed my toe against the step.

I stubbed my toes against a table leg.

As commented by other users, this expression is regional: although it would be understood, it wouldn't sound natural in the American Midwest, nor would it in the UK. But in some parts of America it would.

In light of this, I would recommend to use

I stubbed my toe on the table

which seems to be accepted everywhere.

Fabio says Reinstate Monica

Posted 2018-09-17T10:19:06.640

Reputation: 368

3Against would be understandable, but it's not something a native speaker would say. It makes sense with some of the other verbs they use ("strike against") but it doesn't sound right for "stub". – random_forest_fanatic – 2018-09-17T15:50:11.210

5'against' is most certainly something a native AmEng speaker would say (in addition to 'on'), though it might be regional. "I stubbed my toe against the curb," for example. – Roddy of the Frozen Peas – 2018-09-17T15:54:22.867

2@RoddyoftheFrozenPeas Interesting. I've never heard anything other than "on" in British English. – David Richerby – 2018-09-17T16:56:01.513

@random_forest_fanatic Are you British? In that case, and taking into account the other comments and the votes on them, I think I could add a note to indicate that it's only used in American English. – Fabio says Reinstate Monica – 2018-09-17T17:03:58.473

1@FabioTurati Hehe, nope, I'm American, from the midwest. – random_forest_fanatic – 2018-09-17T20:11:10.813

1"Against" would seem to be regional; I've never heard it in the Northeast. – chepner – 2018-09-17T20:29:19.937

We said it back in Baltimore, so mid-Atlantic, possibly. – Roddy of the Frozen Peas – 2018-09-17T20:54:05.607

1Also from midwest US (MN), and can confirm that although this would be understood (the same way "stubbed my toe onto the table" would be), it sounds awkward to my native ear, and would not be the first choice of words. – Cullub – 2018-09-17T22:15:41.947