Preservation Grammar: “In” v. “On” the National Register

When referring to a historically significant property, do you say that it is listed “on the National Register of Historic Places” or “in the National Register of Historic Places?”

Think about for a minute. Write it down. Which is your preference? Which sounds correct?  Is there a correct answer?  Considering how interchangeable “in” and “on” seem to be in relation to the National Register, it may seem like either one is correct. While both tend to be accepted, there is a right answer.

In the National Register” is the proper phrase.

The National Park Service National Register Bulletin says this, “Properties listed in the National Register include districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that are significant in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture.”

And consider this. The Register is a list. Properties are in that list, among other properties – a part of something (the register). They are not on the list. Think of it like a group of properties or in a crowd of properties – in that group, not on that group. Make sense? Would anyone care to parse this discussion further?

What’s your success rate with “in” or “on” and where did you learn the difference?


Previous Preservation Grammar posts: 

Preservation Grammar: An Historic or A Historic?

In elementary school, most of us learned that it is proper to use “an” before a word that begins in a vowel. Otherwise, use “a”. However, the English language has exceptions to every rule. This is no different. For example, “an hour” is proper as opposed to “a hour”. So why do we come across “an historic” when historic begins with “h”? Don’t we all pronounce the “h” in historic? Sort of. “H” is a weak consonant and pronounced differently across the world, which affects our choice of indefinite article (a or an).

Is there an answer? Yes. Historic is correctly pronounced with the “h” and therefore requires “a” before it. So, the correct pairing of words is “a historic.”

Trusted sources include Grammar Girl, the Oxford Dictionaries, and The Slot. How do you feel about an historic v. a historic? Any other grammatical pet peeves?

Previous Preservation Grammar posts: Affect v. Effect and Historic v. Historical.

Preservation Grammar: Affect v. Effect

Previously: Historic v. Historical

The grammar topic for today: affect v. effect.

“Affect” and “effect” are commonly misused words, whether in relation to the preservation field or not.

While the nuances of these two words can seem complex and there are instances in which both can be verbs and nouns, it is generally straightforward when applying definitions to preservation documents. Still, remembering and applying the appropriate word is important. This is because of their use in the National Historic Preservation Act and the Section 106 regulations.

“Affect” is a verb. As in, will not affect historic integrity.

“Effect” is a noun. As in, adverse effects.