Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Upon and On

Upon vs On

Prepositions are words that are placed near pronouns, verbs, and other grammar constructs so as to help modify the meaning of the object in the sentence. As such, pronouns can help introduce time and place. However, the pronouns “upon” and “on” are frequently interchanged because their usage and purpose in the sentence is almost entirely the same.

In the examples “She relies upon her mother for assistance in her education” and “She relies on her mother for assistance in her education,” these show that you can use either “upon” or “on” in constructing your sentence, and it will still end up having the same meaning.

But there are just some contexts that one cannot be used as a substitute for the other. “Once upon a time in a place called…” and “Strong rains and winds will be upon all of us next week” shows that the preposition “upon” is more appropriate than using “on.” These examples show that “upon” is the preposition of choice when denoting events in time.

When you say “The pen is placed on the table,” you are implying that the pen is situated on top of the desk. Although it may still be okay to use “upon,” the more commonly used preposition to indicate place is “on.”

Another point of confusion is on how the sentence is constructed. In the sentence, “The gathering is depending upon the landing of the plane in which the guest is on-board,” it is clear that “upon” is the most ideal preposition. You cannot just substitute it with “on” as the sentence will not sound right. But if you really choose the preposition “on,” you first have to restructure some words in the sentence to become “The gathering depends on the landing of the plane in which the guest is on-board.” The first notation of the sentence shows that “upon” gives more emphasis and somehow give more formality to the sentence.

To literary experts, they say that “upon” is so much more sparingly used because its application tends to be meant for the more literary writing and reading. But in day-to-day conversation and modern writing, “on” has become more popular because it is more direct and easier to write. As a matter of fact, “upon” seems to be a longer version of “on.” So why use “upon” when you can easily use “on”?

It’s also worth noting that the differences in usage between the two prepositions is more on how one can make the sentence more readable rather than which of the two is more proper.


1.“Upon” appears to give the sentence more formality and emphasis.
2.“Upon” has been observed to be used more commonly in literature.
3.“On” is more readily used today as it is more direct and easier to write.

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