Difference between On and Upon

If you randomly ask students how the words ‘on’ and ‘upon’ are different from each other, most of them would have difficulty in pointing out the differences. Some might answer that both of these terms have the same meaning, while some will deny. So what is it? Is there any difference between these two terms? Or are they synonymous and can be used interchangeably? All these queries will get answered in this article.

The English Language may at times appear to be confusing and tough to understand. But that’s not true! If someone knows all about the words and how to use them and their meanings, then the subject turns out to be very easy for them. After going through this article, one can understand clearly the usage of the terms ‘on’ and ‘upon’. Let us have a look at the following topics:

Table Summarising the Difference between On and Upon

On

Upon

Meaning

The word on is used to denote the location of something.

The word upon is used to refer to the location or time of a thing.

Usage

It is used as a Preposition.

It is used as a Preposition.

Example

The cat is on the couch.

Once upon a time, a beautiful queen lived.

If you notice carefully, you will realise both ‘on’ and ‘upon’ mean the same thing, and one can use them interchangeably, but not always. The only thing they have to keep in mind is the context they are using it in. Let’s go through the detailed meaning of both these words to understand clearly.

The Difference between On and Upon – Meaning

The only difference between ‘on’ and ‘upon’ is that the former has an informal tone, whereas the latter has a formal tone. ‘Upon’ is often used in stories to denote a time in the past. For example, “Once upon a time, there lived a king and queen.” Apart from that, one can easily swap both these words without worrying about getting the sentence incorrect. When the word ‘on’ is used as a preposition, it indicates direct contact of the object with the thing where it is placed. For example, “The baby lay on the cot.” Here, it shows that the baby is directly placed on the bed. Let’s have a closer look at the examples below to understand better.

Examples of On and Upon

Let’s go through the given examples of ‘on’ and ‘upon’ to understand the concept clearly.

On – The teapot is on the stove. (preposition)

Upon – Shelly placed the coat upon the stand. (preposition)

These examples will help the students understand the difference between the words ‘on’ and ‘upon’, and it becomes easier to apply them properly in sentences.

On and Upon – Conclusion

Summing up, both the words ‘on’ and ‘upon’ are synonymous and can be used interchangeably too. Just while using it, one has to understand the context of the sentence. Also, BYJU’S offers various articles on many such ‘differences between two words’ that students often get confused with.

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