On vs Upon: Difference and Comparison

Prepositions are words or groups of terms used to show the relationship between nouns and pronouns in the sentence with another word.

Some examples of prepositions are to, at, in, of, etc. Upon and On can be used interchangeably, but these words can’t be interchanged in some conditions.

Key Takeaways

  1. Both “on” and “upon” are prepositions that indicate position or location.
  2. “On” is more commonly used in everyday language, while “upon” has a more formal or literary tone.
  3. “Upon” conveys a sense of immediacy or suddenness compared to “on.”

On vs Upon

On is a word that is used when talking or in informal writing, it is placed in a normal sentence as an adverb or preposition, and it shows exactly where an object is located. Upon is an English word that expresses the place and time of a particular thing, and it makes a sentence formal.

On vs Upon

On has multiple ways and meanings; for one, it is used to indicate the position above something in contact with or supporting it.

For example, The book was on the table. It also indicated attachment to something; for instance, Pearls were on the string. It is used in predicting some specific or certain times abstract motion; for example, Children were jumping on the couch.

Upon is used in multiple ways, with different meanings; it could indicate towards someone or something at an elevated position; for example, The posters were upon the building.

It could also be used to indicate the completion or proximity of something, for instance, Festivals are upon us, and we need to buy clothes.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonOnUpon
UseIt is used to show the location of an object.This is used to express the time and place of a particular thing.
NatureOn is used in a sentence Normally.Upon is used to make a sentence more formal.
Place in grammarIt can be used as both a preposition and an adverb. But the preposition is most appropriate.It can be used as both a preposition and adverb. But the preposition is most appropriate.
ObjectiveOn is used to show a stationary object.Upon is mainly used to describe an object in motion.
Example Example for a more clear understanding – He was lying on the ground.Example for a more clear understanding – The rat jumped upon the bread.

What is On?

On is a preposition that is used to express an object in its stationary state. It is used in informal settings. It is commonly used to show that something is in contact with other elements in its surroundings.

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It makes a sentence look less formal and shows the location of something or some object. It’s a term in native construction, which means that its relation or strings were attached to old English.

It indicates attachment with something in particular and highlights it in the sentence.

It was a less idiomatic version. In the ancient period, on and in were used as common words. There were no significant distinctions between on and in, and it can be used wherever.

But with time, people refined the English language and came up with specific criteria, which helped in distinguishing the usage for in and on.

There are a number of ways leading to different meanings through which the preposition ‘on’ could be used in a sentence. One other very common usage of on is showing an event at a particular time or format.

For example, On 2nd December, It was on this day that we went for a picnic; We were on time, etc.

What is Upon?

Upon term was made with the mixture of the adverb ‘up’ and the preposition ‘on.’ And this can be used as both an adverb and a preposition.

In present times, Upon is considered old-fashioned. It is used to describe an object in motion and not in a stationary state. It expresses the sentence as more formal than the latter and shows the place and time of the particular thing.

One of the most common examples of upon could be seen in children’s stories, where stories start with “once upon a time….”

Other meanings include while indicating something at an elevated position; for example, there were black flags upon the pirate ship, He was seated upon a bench, the crow was sitting upon a rock, etc.

Also Read:  Afterward vs Subsequently: Difference and Comparison

One of the usages of upon is indicating something immediately after; for example, He began studying upon the family functions.


Main Differences Between On and Upon

  1. On and Upon can be used interchangeably sometimes. But not in every situation since on is used to show the location of an object, whereas upon is used to express the time and place of a particular thing.
  2. These words sound similar with exact meaning, but the major difference between them is that one expresses the objects in a stationary while upon expresses in motion.
  3. On is used more often, while in today’s time, Upon is considered as an old-fashioned term.
  4. On indicates, pertinence, whereas on the other hand, upon indicates suppressiveness.
  5. On can be used in places that need something less idiomatic term than upon.
Difference Between On and Upon
  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/410759
  2. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/039219216501305105

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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