Wait in line.

Wait on line.

In line or on line? Which is the correct expression to use in this situation?

And that answer would be…

It depends on what region you are from.

Wait in line is common in most regions of the US, while Wait on line is native to the East Coast in the US, particularly New York City.

In writing, however, it is more standard to use in line instead of on line. If you traveling to the US as a non-native speaker of English and you’re not sure which one to use, the safer bet would be to say in line.

In Britain, people say wait in the queue instead of wait in line. Note here that there should be an article (either a or the) in front of the word queue. So speakers of British English would say queue up instead of line up.

You can refer to these example sentences to help you get a sense of how these expressions can be used in context:

  • I waited in line for donuts for four hours.
  • Evan waited on line at the post office this morning.
  • Valerie stood in a queue at the cinema.
  • Jessica stood in line behind Arthur who was talking loudly on the phone.
  • Denis got on line for the new coffee shop to try out their cold brew latte.
  • Grace queue up to go into the crowded shop.

Here are other uses of in and on that are not to be confused with the cases above:

  • Wendy has been waiting on her sister to get ready for over an hour.
    • You wait on a person. Wendy has been waiting for her sister for over an hour.
  • Your mother is on the line.
    • This means your mother is waiting for you on the other side of the phone.
  • Angela, your client is on Line 2.
    • In this sentence, a client is waiting on Angela on Line 2 of the phone system.
  • Go online to sign up for the webinar.
    • Online without a space is used to express being on the Internet. Here, the reader is directed to go on the Internet to sign up for a webinar.
  • The design is very much in line with our brand.
    • In line can also be used to mean align with. The design aligns with this company’s brand.

English is a complex language, and it may be difficult for non-native speakers to know which phrase is correct or more commonly used. Check out Pcanpi to get suggestions on your English writing from our AI proofreader.


Do you wait ‘on line’ or ‘in line’?
Depends where you’re from
“On line” vs. “In line”: Which Do You Say?
Step right up and get “in line” ... or is it “on line”? You may think you know which is correct, but it really depends on where you live.