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 The surface of something is the top or the top layer.

  • A boat floats on the surface of the water.
  • People live on the surface of the Earth.
  • The surface of the moon is uninhabitable.
  • Dolphins and whales break through the surface of the water for air.
  • The surface of a desk is used for working.
  • The surface of a table is the place where people eat.
  • The surface area of an ice rink is covered in ice.
  • It’s important to have a clean surface when painting something.
  • If the surface of a street is uneven, it can cause problems for cars.
  • Some people cry when emotional issues rise to the surface.

moon surface

The moon’s surface is covered with craters.

You will often hear "on the surface" used when something apparent, or something you can see, is actually hiding something that you can’t see:

  • He looks angry on the surface, but he’s not really angry.
  • On the surface, she’s happy; in reality, she’s miserable.
  • On the surface, this seems like a straight forward issue, but it’s actually very complex.

The word "surface" can also be used as a verb. In this case, a thing previously unknown becomes known.

  • News surfaced over the weekend that a local politician was being investigated for a crime.
  • Evidence suddenly surfaced to indicate just how bad the problem really is.


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Date of publication: December 26, 2016


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