Thursday, August 18, 2011

Grammar Tip: On vs. Upon

I recently worked on editing a book where the author consistently used upon where my natural inclination was to use on. So I did a little digging and discovered that...well, there isn't much out there on the difference.

The dictionary saved the day: MW explains that upon means on, with other definitions considered obsolete.

A few forums took it a step further and explained that upon is considered more formal than on and should be reserved for set expressions (once upon a time...) and more formal settings (legalese!).

In short, if you aren't telling a story and you aren't obsessed with your own intelligence, don't use upon. It doesn't make you sound makes you sound stuck-up.


  1. Thanks for the help!

  2. "Upon" is the most over used word in the English language since so many use it to sound formal when it is not needed. Thanks!

  3. Thanks a bunch! I agree, there's not much out there on this and I appreciate your summary here.