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The definite answer to common problem "open the book..."

I am really sick of finding contradictory answers and explanations to this problem.
I am really asking real professionals, because I need the most comprehensive answer possible.
I'm looking for a definite answer - which sentence is correct - please open your books AT or ON the particular page?
I've found many native speakers' examples of accepting only "at".
Many natives outside of the UK are standing by the "to page" option.
Let's say that we stick to BrE for now, but even broader answer would be appreciated. 
On the other hand, I've found examples in the materials for foreigners, for learning English, which should be written by true English philologists, for example on , that state the "on" option as correct.
Additionally, why is there no article in this phrase? Can you explain this also?
So, please tell me, the best with references to sources, what option is true.
Best regards,


  • @Gregoreo, what you are asking for is impossible. There is no source with rules for the use in every variety of English of every English preposition with every English noun following every English verb.

    But we have to start somewhere, so let's start with verb meaning. What does open mean when used with the OBJECT book?

    Here's the relevant part of the OED

    to part the covers of (a book) to read its contents

    From Oxford living Dictionaries Online

    [with object] Part the covers of (a book or file) to read it.
    she opened her book at the prologue

    From Collins COBUILD

    If you open a book, you move its covers apart in order to read or write on the pages inside EG Open the book at page 23

    All these definitions depict an action in terms of its end state. The result is that the book is in a state that you can read it (or write in it).

    That's why the ADVERBIAL giving extra information about the end state is an ADVERBIAL OF PLACE.

    The book is open.
    Open where?
    At the prologue./ At page 23.

    If you say Open the book to page 23, then you change the meaning of open. Instead of a single action resulting in an end state, it becomes a process towards a goal — in this case the goal of the prologue or the goal of page 23.

    In the British English that I speak — and which I taught for over thirty years — open just doesn't mean 'keep opening until you come to'. I can't say Open your book to page 23, and I've never thought of it as the sort of English that students should hear.

    If you say Open the book on page 23, then you change the meaning of open in a different way. It means something like 'read what is visible on page 23 by exposing it'.

    Now it's possible that other varieties of English have changed the meaning of open so as to allow Open to page 23 or Open on page 23. I don't see how you could discover this. More importantly, I don't see what action you could take if you did find out. Surely what matters is that Open your books at page 23 is acceptable in every variety of English.

    Some minor points.
    1. A teacher addressing students would say Open your books not Open the book.
    2. You can refer to a page
    * INDEFINITELY It was at the top of a page (I'm not saying which one.)
    * DEFINITELY Look at the top of the page (You and I know which one.)
    * UNIQUELY Look at page 23 (The book has only one page with the number 23.)

    We can't usually combine these ways of reference. We can't usually say a page 23 or the page 23. The only way we could do so is if we were talking about pages from different books.

  • I am so much grateful right now :) Thanks to you with all my might :-D 
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