That could mean "I type on my phone at the computer" or "I type on a typewriter at my computer". It doesn't mean "I type on my computer". You can't translate words the same in every situation, especially prepositions. "à" can mean:
- till, until
Each meaning has limited use, and there are no sentences where all the meanings are valid.
One types on a keyboard. One sits at a workstation to type. One can either type at a computer (meaning you are sitting in front of it) or one can type on a computer (meaning you are typing on the part of it that comprises the keyboard). Either on or at should be accepted, but they have different meanings, unless a native French speaker can say that à l’ordinateur specifically means one, and only one, of those things.
Similarly, "I type on the computer" could mean that I am sitting on the computer while typing on something. Prepositions are highly idiomatic.
We have experienced a lot of discussions over the years where someone says "well, it could mean that." And the answer is that the translation should be understood in the way a francophone would understand it. Sorry, but "sitting on the computer" did not make the cut.
Hi, just for what it's worth, I'm a native english speaker and a computer programmer (since the 90s). When I hear somebody talk about being "on the computer" it kind of makes my skin crawl. I understand that it's the most common construction, but it's not one that I would use.
I think IT professionals have a couple of idioms which differ from the generally accepted way of saying things, and this is really interfering with my ability to test out of this section.
While I take George's point about the particular words' meanings in French (sur and à) and I find his comments helpful for learning French, in American English one could in my opinion use either at or on for this particular expression. I am intend this comment in a constructive spirit.
It's the same french... "on the computer" is just duo's clunky translation of this sentence. as c.j.dennis said,
"à" can mean:
to, on, at, in, of, till, until, with, by, or
When someone says they do something "on the computer", it is clear what is meant. The common user interface is the keyboard but one does not specify "on the keyboard" when you are using your computer (system) to perform an action. Do you like "at" because of the French « à »? If that is part of your rationale, please see the note above from C.J.Dennis.
See 7May. hat perfectly good English. And while we're on the subject of American v English English, when are you going to discover that we have mobiles, to cellphones and make it a viable option when using the boxed answers?
The term "mobile" is accepted for the FR "portable", but when you choose to use word-tiles for the exercises, your preferred BrE expression may not be available. Type out your own answer and "mobile" will be accepted for FR "portable".
I'm going to try to take another stab at explaining my position on this expression.
"On the computer" is certainly in common use, and should be accepted. It probably comes from "on the phone", and is more heavily used by the general (American) English-speaking population.
However "at the computer" should also be accepted, being the older form. It most likely descends from "at the terminal" or "at the controls", and remains in use among those of us who were computer users and programmers before September 1993. You'll also hear it more frequently in Britain.
Sitesurf, I'm very grateful for the work that you and your colleagues have done on the English to French tree, and in no way mean this suggestion as a complaint.