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I saw the puma up a tree.

I saw the puma on a tree.

So, what is the difference between ‘up a tree’ and ‘on a tree’?

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"Up a tree" shows the puma has climbed up the tree, and you can now see it somewhere in the tree, above the ground level. "On a tree" sounds a little strange. It gives the impression the puma is sitting on the very top of the tree; you'd usually be much better off saying up a tree or in a tree.

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  • But you can say the puma is on a branch of the tree.
    – Andrew
    Commented May 14, 2019 at 14:39
  • And fruit, leaves, branches, and bark belong on trees. Commented May 14, 2019 at 14:46
  • @JustinStafford In that sense of on, it means covering the surface of or attached to. It would make little sense (normally) to apply that meaning to a person. (Maybe if they were glued or stapled to a tree . . .) Commented May 14, 2019 at 17:44

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