Ex. 1:

To build upon a previous example, the novel question “are you feeling okay?” might evoke the same “yes” response due to the similarity of the questions. [Source]

Ex. 2:

To build upon a previous example, remembering where you parked your car is an example of episodic memory, but your understanding of what a car is and how an engine works are examples of semantic memory. [Source]

I know what to build upon means. Does to build upon a previous example, mean to give a further example following the previous example?


It doesn’t necessarily mean “to give a second example”—more like “to give an example of something else using the same content in the previous example.” In your second example, the author has likely used parking a car as an example of some other concept not directly related to episodic and semantic memory.

  • Could you provide some examples of this phrase in context? I think that would help make the answer more complete.
    – Andrew
    Dec 6 '18 at 17:31
  • Why isn't the used instead of a? I mean: "To build upon the previous example, ..."
    – Juya
    Dec 6 '18 at 18:18
  • 2
    No, it doesn't necessarily mean to give an example of something else. (And I'm not sure how that wouldn't be interpreted as giving a second example.) In fact, I wouldn't take it that way at all. (Although I suppose it could be.) It could simply mean to expand on the previous example. In other words, "let me clarify" or "let me give more of an explanation." All without saying anything about anything else. Dec 6 '18 at 19:13

To build upon a/the previous example means that the previous example supplied some of the information we need for the current issue, but not all of it, so we'll pick up from where we left off in the previous example and develop it further, or "build upon it", or extend it further, adding more information. In other words, you're not starting with a completely new example, but starting from where you left off in the previous one and adding more to it.

For example, you might be showing how to write some code that will create an effect on a web page. Later, if you wanted to extend the functionality of that effect, you might "build on the previous example" by adding some more code to what you already have (rather than start completely from scratch).

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