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The prepositions 'upon' & 'onto' have a slight difference. 'Upon' indicates 'position at a higher level'; 'onto‘ indicates ‘movement to a higher position‘. Therefore, the sentence "The cat jumped onto the table" is okay. Because it indicates a movement to a higher position. The sentence, "The cat slept upon the table" is also okay because it indicates rest or position at a higher level, not movement. But my friend tells me that we can also say "The cat jumped upon the table".

Can we use ‘upon‘ & ‘onto‘ interchangeably to indicate MOTION?

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"The cat jumped upon the table" introduces a potential ambiguity. It could be understood as "The cat did jumps which started and finished on the table." Now pragmatically that is unlikely (cats don't jump up and down in one place like toddlers), so this would probably be rejected for that reason. It would be understood as an odd way to to say "onto the table".

It could also be understood as "jumped up, on the table" (if spoken) which is also a little odd.

To summarise, while "jumped upon the table" would probably be understood. There is no reason to use it instead of the obviously correct "onto the table".

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  • I think "The cat jumped onto the table" and "The cat jumped up on the table" denote the same meanings. Am I right? Here, 'up on' is two separate words in which 'up' is a directional word. Commented May 24, 2023 at 15:25

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