Difference Wiki

On vs. About: What's the Difference?

Edited by Sumera Saeed || By Sara Rehman || Updated on November 13, 2023
On" typically indicates a position atop or in contact with a surface, while "about" refers to a subject or topic, or a state of being around or nearby.

Key Differences

The word "on" is primarily used to denote a position atop a surface or in close proximity to something. It implies physical contact or a direct association with a location or object. In contrast, "about" is often used to indicate a subject matter or topic of discussion. It conveys the idea of discussing or referring to a specific theme or issue.
Sara Rehman
Nov 13, 2023
"On" can also signify a state of operation or an active condition, especially in the context of electronic devices or events. This usage highlights an ongoing action or a state of engagement. Conversely, "about" is frequently employed to describe approximate measurements, such as time or quantity, indicating a sense of nearness or closeness without exact precision.
Sara Rehman
Nov 13, 2023
In the realm of scheduling and time, "on" is used to specify particular days or dates, suggesting a precise timing. This precision in "on" contrasts with the more flexible and general nature of "about," which is used to suggest approximate times or durations, providing a sense of estimation rather than exactness.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 13, 2023
"On" also finds its use in expressions that signify reliance or dependence, as in trusting someone's word or judgment. In this context, it implies a foundation or basis for something. "About," on the other hand, is used to express movement in the vicinity of an area or object, often denoting motion that is encircling or surrounding.
Sara Rehman
Nov 13, 2023

Comparison Chart

Position

Indicates being atop or touching a surface.
Refers to being around or in the vicinity of something.
Sara Rehman
Nov 13, 2023
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Subject Matter

Not typically used for topics.
Commonly used to refer to a specific topic or subject.
Sara Rehman
Nov 13, 2023

Approximation

Precise, as in dates or locations.
Indicates approximation or generalization.
Sara Rehman
Nov 13, 2023

Operational State

Indicates an active state, like a device being on.
Not used for operational states.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 13, 2023

Movement

Can imply direct engagement or contact.
Often denotes encircling or moving around something.
Sara Rehman
Nov 13, 2023

On and About Definitions

On

Indicating physical contact or position atop.
The book is on the table.
Sara Rehman
Nov 13, 2023
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About

Referring to dealing with or concerning a subject.
The book is about history.
Harlon Moss
Nov 13, 2023

On

Referring to the medium through which something is expressed or communicated.
The story was on the radio.
Harlon Moss
Nov 13, 2023

About

Indicating a change in direction or orientation.
He turned about and walked away.
Sara Rehman
Nov 13, 2023

On

Denoting the day or part of a day during which an event takes place.
The meeting is on Friday.
Janet White
Nov 13, 2023

About

Indicating movement in or to different directions around a place.
Walking about the garden.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 13, 2023

On

Indicating a state of being active, functioning or operating.
The lights are on.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 13, 2023

About

Expressing location in a general vicinity.
I left my keys somewhere about here.
Sara Rehman
Nov 13, 2023

On

Indicating dependence or reliance.
He lives on a pension.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 13, 2023

About

Denoting approximate quantities, numbers, or extents.
There were about twenty people there.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 13, 2023

On

Used to indicate position above and supported by or in contact with
The vase is on the table. We rested on our hands and knees.
Sara Rehman
Mar 20, 2023

About

Approximately; nearly
The interview lasted about an hour.
Sara Rehman
Mar 20, 2023

On

Used to indicate contact with or extent over (a surface) regardless of position
A picture on the wall.
A rash on my back.
Sara Rehman
Mar 20, 2023

About

Almost
The job is about done.
Sara Rehman
Mar 20, 2023

On

Used to indicate location at or along
The pasture on the south side of the river.
A house on the highway.
Sara Rehman
Mar 20, 2023

About

To a reversed position or direction
Turn about and walk away slowly.
Sara Rehman
Mar 20, 2023

FAQs

How is "on" used in communication?

It refers to the medium of communication, like "on TV."
Janet White
Nov 13, 2023

Is "on" used for operational states?

Yes, like a device being "on" means it's functioning.
Sara Rehman
Nov 13, 2023

What does "on" imply in terms of location?

It implies being atop or in direct contact with a surface.
Sara Rehman
Nov 13, 2023

Can "on" indicate a time?

Yes, it specifies exact days or dates.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 13, 2023

Can "about" indicate approximate location?

Yes, it suggests a general vicinity.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 13, 2023

What does "on" mean in terms of dependency?

It indicates reliance, like living "on" a pension.
Sara Rehman
Nov 13, 2023

How does "about" relate to subject matter?

It refers to the topic or theme of discussion.
Sara Rehman
Nov 13, 2023

Does "about" indicate quantity?

Yes, it refers to approximate numbers or amounts.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 13, 2023

Can "on" refer to a basis of action?

Yes, like acting "on advice."
Janet White
Nov 13, 2023

How does "about" express movement?

It denotes moving around or in different directions.
Sara Rehman
Nov 13, 2023

Does "about" relate to exact locations?

No, it's more about general areas or nearness.
Janet White
Nov 13, 2023

Is "about" used for exact times?

No, it suggests a rough estimate of time.
Janet White
Nov 13, 2023

Is "about" used for precise timing?

No, it indicates approximation, not precision.
Janet White
Nov 13, 2023

How is "on" used in terms of events?

It specifies when an event occurs, like "on Monday."
Janet White
Nov 13, 2023

How is "on" used in technology?

It indicates an active or operational state of devices.
Harlon Moss
Nov 13, 2023

Can "on" indicate a method?

Yes, like in "on foot" or "on the internet."
Sara Rehman
Nov 13, 2023

Can "on" be used to express direction?

Not typically; it's more about position or state.
Sara Rehman
Nov 13, 2023

Is "about" used in expressing exact measurements?

No, it's used for approximations.
Sara Rehman
Nov 13, 2023

Does "about" imply a specific point?

No, it's more general and less specific.
Sara Rehman
Nov 13, 2023

Is "about" used to describe precise actions?

No, it's more about general actions or states.
Sara Rehman
Nov 13, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sara Rehman
Sara Rehman is a seasoned writer and editor with extensive experience at Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Information Technology, she combines her academic prowess with her passion for writing to deliver insightful and well-researched content.
Edited by
Sumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.

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