On vs. Upon

'On' and 'upon' are said to be equivalents and can be interchanged. In this lesson, we will learn when to use each of them.

"On" vs. "Upon" in the English grammar

What Is Their Main Difference?

'On' and 'upon' indicate the same meaning. Both of them are used to indicate that something is in an elevated position. The only difference between the two is that 'upon' is more formal.


'On' is used to show that something is located vertically at a higher level than something else. 'On' is more common than its equivalent 'upon.'

I asked her to place her belongings on that rack.

They made sure everything was showcased on the table.


When we want to show something is vertically at a higher level than something else, we can use 'upon.' 'Upon' is mostly seen in formal texts and stories and is less common than 'on.' Have a look:

She depends on her mother for help.

She depends upon her mother for help.


'On' and 'upon' are interchangeable when they convert the meaning of 'something is at a higher level than something else.' There are other meanings that these two prepositions can show different meanings. For example 'upon' is used as 'at the time of' in sentences. In this case, we cannot replace it with 'on.' Have a look:

She smiled upon seeing her boyfriend.

Once upon a time, there was a young girl who lived deep into the forest.


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