In the Team or On the Team – Which Is Correct?

You will hear “on the team” and “in the team” used often. Are they both correct, or is there some reason why one phrase might be preferred over the other? Here we take a look at when and why each phrase is chosen.

In the Team or On the Team – Which Is Correct?

The phrases “in the team” and “on the team” are both correct and can be used interchangeably in most cases. Although the choice of the preposition “in” or “on” can mean a subtle difference in emphasis intended by the speaker, the choice of the other option is never incorrect.

in the team or on the team

“On the team” is preferred slightly in the case where a team member has been selected, and the emphasis is on the achievement of the individual. The phrase “in the team” is more about inclusion. It conveys the sense of being “one of many” and deflects attention from the speaker.

In the Team

“In the team”, although correct in every case, is often used to stress collective responsibility or success, where the members “work in a team” and do not seek the limelight. It also implies inclusiveness and belonging, so that being “in our team” or “on your team” denotes one’s loyalties.

When an adjective is added that suggests a common interest, it is interesting that “in the national team” will be preferred.

Here are some examples of how to use “in the team” in a sentence:

  1. The morale in the team was high after their success in the first round of the cup.
  2. When you work in a team, you have to accept that your success or failure depends on your colleagues.
  3. When the odds are stacked against you and it feels like you have a mountain to climb, you need a player like her in your team.
  4. We may not have any international stars in our team, but it is the collective effort and commitment that guarantees our success.
  5. It is an enormous privilege to work in a team of people who consistently deliver results at the highest level.
  6. We have at least five potential captains in our team, but we have to choose just one!
  7. The manager stressed that he would not tolerate laziness in the team.

On the Team

“On the team” refers to a list of members selected for a task. The selection process suggests that the members appear “on” a list. This idea of being chosen to represent the team highlights the individual. Also, performance is improved by working “on the team” as a unit.

The following examples show how to use “on the team” in a sentence:

  1. We will know who is on the team this weekend after the announcement on Friday evening.
  2. As the team is made up of several young and inexperienced players, there are also some older, more mature players on the team.
  3. After her individual success in the Olympics, we are looking forward to having her on our team.
  4. At the moment, the head of operations is working on a team of experts to draft operational procedures for the proposed research.
  5. If you had the choice, who would you like to see on your team to lead the project?
  6. Since so many players retired at the end of last season, our players are mostly young and inexperienced, so we must work on a team to build confidence and cohesion before the next match.
  7. There are some familiar faces on the team of experts who are conducting the inquiry.

Which Is Used The Most?

According to the statistics collected by Google Ngram Viewer, the phrase “on the team” is currently found about five times more often than “in the team”.

in the team or on the team usage

This predominance of “on the team” seems to be a fairly recent phenomenon, since, until the 1980s, the two phrases were equally popular.

Is It “On the Same Team” or “In the Same Team”?

While both phrases can be used interchangeably, the idea of being “in the same team” implies that the members of the group are all equal and have to get along with each other. However, the phrase “on the same team” may highlight discrepancies or inconsistencies.

Where “in the same team” suggests inclusion, mutual support and working together, “on the same team” might refer to some reason why those players should not be there together. For instance, it would not make sense to have three goalkeepers on the same team.

For example:

  • We need to find a way to forget our differences and remember that we are in the same team against a common enemy.
  • It will be interesting to see if the arch enemies from the rival clubs will be able to play well together when they are on the same team.

Yoy may also like: Work On/In/With A Team – Preposition Guide (With Examples)