What are the differences between phrasal verbs Draw on/upon and draw from. They used in academic texts and it seems that their meaning is so close. for example in the following sentences:

Sociobiology is a field of biology that aims to examine and explain social behavior in terms of evolution. It draws from disciplines including ethology, anthropology, evolution, zoology, archaeology, and population genetics.

Social researchers draw upon a variety of qualitative and quantitative techniques.

Many different methodologies are used to study cognitive science. As the field is highly interdisciplinary, research often cuts across multiple areas of study, drawing on research methods from psychology, neuroscience, computer science and systems theory.

2 Answers 2


Draw on and draw upon I consider absolutely 100% equivalent and interchangeable. This is true in most if not all possible uses of on and upon, I believe.

In this context, draw from is also equivalent, as I read it.

However, there are uses for draw on/upon in which you can't use draw from as an alternative, and vice versa.

In his attempt to get a prestigious job, he drew upon favours owed to his father by influential men.

This is the same as drawing upon an account. In the case of a bank account, we might withdraw from the account, or draw upon the account - the latter being slightly old fashioned - but we wouldn't draw from the account in most situations.

The membership of the British and Irish Lions is drawn from Welsh, English, Scottish and Irish players.

Essentially, we don't usually use draw in this sense, in the past tense (specifically the past participle), with on or upon. To draw on something also means to make markings on it, such as with a pen or a crayon, and drawn on will generally refer to that meaning. The preterite (simple past) drew does not have this restriction.


There's no glaring difference to me, however if I had to choose then I'd use "draw from" in situations where somebody/something is influenced by others, in this case sociology being influenced by other disciplines.

On the other hand, draws upon would indicate a reliance on, where drawing upon something is summoning it and using it for a purpose, just as scientists draw upon scientific techniques, they rely on them, they do not draw from them.

It is a nuance though!

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