In the report, the police have said the menu was neither displayed nor shared with the police by the canteen Staff upon their visit


I read this sentence from a Indian news paper "the Hindu" and I am confused whether to use on or upon, in sentence they used "upon" as shown above in sentence.

  • You need to specify if this happened when they arrived, or just sometime during their visit.
    – user3169
    Mar 28, 2016 at 20:46

4 Answers 4


The subtle difference is that upon denotes moment in time whereas on denotes both moment in time and during.

We can use "on" to mean "at a moment in time"

On our arrival... (the moment of our arrival)

or "during"

On our journey...

Locative uses aside, we use "upon" nowadays mainly to refer to moments in time

upon our arrival...

we set out upon our journey

upon seeing it for the first time...

upon being informed that

not to duration:

archaism We met him while we were upon our journey.

  • I tend to agree with your assessment, but I'm not quite sure if using upon with a durative activity is really archaism. Personally, I think it's just more formal or maybe literary. Mar 28, 2016 at 13:11
  • Upon our journey would be a rarity nowadays, even in a literary context, unless the author were deliberately seeking to evoke an earlier style. books.google.com/ngrams/…
    – TimR
    Mar 28, 2016 at 13:14

"Upon" is less used now but remains common in formal writing. "On" is deemed an acceptable substitution nowadays. They are interchangeable in cases like that. In some special cases only "upon" may be used. "Once upon a time..." and "Breakfast-time is upon us" are examples. These are special , less common, or more formal cases that emphasise the connection "upon" has with time and place in contrast to "on" being simply proximity.


But you look up the prepositions on and upon in McMillan, Oxford, Longman, Cambridge, or The Free Dictionary, you will know that these prepositions can be used interchangeably in many cases. See McMillan for details. One of these cases is when one thing happens immediately after another. Look at the following sentences:

Please report to the reception desk on/upon your arrival.

Upon/On arriving home I discovered that he had gone.

She was joyful upon/on seeing her child.

Similarly, you can say 'on/upon their visit' in the sentence presented by the OP, without any difference in meaning. However. the use of 'upon' is much more formal than 'on'.


In the report, the police have said the menu was neither displayed nor shared with the police by the canteen Staff during their visit.

In your example I would use during, since the "display or sharing" could have occurred anytime during their "visit". Upon would be better if you were referring to their arrival (upon being a moment in time).

I would not use "on" here, but it is not specifically wrong.

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