I'm a foreigner student who I am about to do the final college degree project at an English speaking country.

I have seen that a lot of professors' project proposals for the students are formulated with the following structure, for instance:

On the construction and application of implicit factored schemes for conservation laws.

I have been studying English for years and I can understand it really good. However, what attracts my attention here is the structure: "On the computation..."

I had never seen before this structure until now that I'm seeing it very often and I'm just curious about when it is used and why.

I understand the meaning but I would not say it that way. When is it used or in which context is frequent this structure?

  • On the side, "English speaking country".
    – user3169
    Commented Dec 3, 2015 at 1:21

1 Answer 1


On is used here in the sense about, concerning, as in "an article on the construction &c".

This is rather old-fashioned now, but at one time it was common to title essays and monographs this way; two of Edmund Burke's works, for instance, were titled On the Present State of the Nation and On American Taxation. The practice may have arisen in imitation of the traditional titles of classical works, which often employed the preposition de (Latin) or περὶ ('peri', Greek) in the same way: Caesar's De Bello Gallico, "On the Gallic War", for instance, or Longinus' Περὶ ὕψους, "On the Sublime".

  • Okay! Your answer was helpful for understanding what I asked, thank you.
    – Airman01
    Commented Dec 3, 2015 at 7:55
  • It still shows up fairly enough in academic papers, in my experience. On the Predicate Focus Construction in Korean and Japanese, On the Relation Between the Intonation Types and the Functions of Discourse Particles in Japanese, On the Predicateless Copula Construction in Japanese, On the variability of negative scope in Japanese, On the So-Called Japanese Complementizer, On the Nature of Past Events in Japanese -te i-ru Constructions, On the Type-wise Productivity of Lexical V-V Compounds in Japanese, On the Event Structure of Indirect Passive in Japanese, . . .
    – user230
    Commented Dec 3, 2015 at 8:28
  • @snailboat Interesting. You almost never see these in my old stomping ground, LitCrit. I looked at the ToC for the last three issues of PMLA and found only one--and that one used Of, an equally old-fashioned construction. Commented Dec 3, 2015 at 17:42

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