I often use "in this context" to refer to a situation where some expressions could be used. I found lots of people use the expression. I also found lots of people use "on context".

I've gone through the page of definition of "context" on Cambridge Dictionary. There is no item similar to "on context".

I guess some of hits on Google Ngram might be part of "depend on context", but I don't know how to verify that suspect.

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So, is it grammatical to say "on context"? If yes, what's the meaning?


I assume most answerers on ELL are native English speakers. Therefor, their answers might could be taken as examples, here is one of them

Notice that the people who generally speak such sentences in American movies are those who are marginalized, most often without an education and/or proper and systematic knowledge of English.

I hope I have answered your question on context and interpretation

Another example

The answer is "yes," but your question is woefully short on context, so, unless one is familiar with research publications and conference proceedings, the meaning you suggest wouldn't necessarily be the first that comes to mind.

  • Do you have even a single example of a native speaker using on context instead of in context? I leafed through the first couple of pages of written instances from your NGram, but found nothing relevant. Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 15:13
  • Heh heh. "Top knot come down!" teamfishhooks.com/top-knot-come-down
    – puppetsock
    Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 15:44

2 Answers 2


No, if you hear "on context" either you've misheard or the speaker has made an error. "Context" is like a location; something can be in/within context, or out of/without context, but "on context" makes no sense. Since "in" and "on" sound somewhat similar, most English speakers would just assume that they misheard the word "in" if someone said "on context", because "in context" is the correct preposition for that word.

A lot of the examples you linked to use "depending on context", in which case "depending on" is the operative phrase and context can be replaced by almost anything.

  • I've updated my question just now, would you please take a loot at that?
    – WXJ96163
    Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 22:12
  • @WXJ96163 User James K.'s answer below covers the new examples in your question.
    – user45266
    Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 0:50

The two examples that you give differ.

In the first example the structure is "a question on X", were X = "context and interpretation". Here the "on" means "concerning". You can put almost anything for X, for example

What do squirrels eat?' is a question on squirrels.

The second example has the phrasal "short on X", meaning "not enough X". You can say

We are short on coffee, can you go to the shops and buy some more.

So while phrases with "on context" exist, there is no particular phrase "on context". On the other hand "in context" does exist.

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