Meaning of ON in English

/ ɒn; NAmE ɑːn; ɔːn/ preposition , adverb

■ preposition

HELP NOTE : For the special uses of on in phrasal verbs, look at the entries for the verbs. For example turn on sb is in the phrasal verb section at turn .


in or into a position covering, touching or forming part of a surface :

a picture on a wall

There's a mark on your skirt.

the diagram on page 5

Put it down on the table.

He had been hit on the head.

She climbed on to the bed.

HELP NOTE : This could also be written:

onto the bed


supported by sb/sth :

She was standing on one foot.

Try lying on your back.

Hang your coat on that hook.


used to show a means of transport :

He was on the plane from New York.

to travel on the bus / tube / coach

I came on my bike.

a woman on horseback


used to show a day or date :

He came on Sunday.

We meet on Tuesdays.

on May the first / the first of May

on the evening of May the first

on one occasion

on your birthday


immediately after sth :

On arriving home I discovered they had gone.

Please report to reception on arrival.

There was a letter waiting for him on his return.


about sth/sb :

a book on South Africa

She tested us on irregular verbs.


being carried by sb; in the possession of sb :

Have you got any money on you?


used to show that sb belongs to a group or an organization :

to be on the committee / staff / jury / panel

Whose side are you on (= which of two or more different views do you support) ?


eating or drinking sth; using a drug or a medicine regularly :

He lived on a diet of junk food.

The doctor put me on antibiotics.


used to show direction :

on the left / right

He turned his back on us.


at or near a place :

a town on the coast

a house on the Thames

We lived on an estate.


used to show the basis or reason for sth :

a story based on fact

On their advice I applied for the job.


paid for by sth :

to live on a pension / a student grant

to be on a low wage

You can't feed a family on £50 a week.

Drinks are on me (= I am paying) .


by means of sth; using sth :

She played a tune on her guitar.

The information is available on the Internet.

We spoke on the phone.

What's on TV?

The programme's on Channel 4.


used with some nouns or adjectives to say who or what is affected by sth :

a ban on smoking

He's hard on his kids.

Go easy on the mayo! (= do not give me too much)


compared with sb/sth :

Sales are up on last year.


used to describe an activity or a state :

to be on business / holiday / vacation

The book is currently on loan.


used when giving a telephone number :

You can get me on 0181 530 3906.

She's on extension 2401.

■ adverb

HELP NOTE : For the special uses of on in phrasal verbs, look at the entries for the verbs. For example get on is in the phrasal verb section at get .


used to show that sth continues :

He worked on without a break.

If you like a good story, read on.


used to show that sb/sth moves or is sent forward :

She stopped for a moment, then walked on.

Keep straight on for the beach.

From then on he never trusted her again.

Please send the letter on to my new address.


on sb's body; being worn :

Put your coat on.

I didn't have my glasses on.

What did she have on (= what was she wearing) ?


covering, touching or forming part of sth :

Make sure the lid is on.


connected or operating; being used :

The lights were all on.

The TV is always on in their house.

We were without electricity for three hours but it's on again now.


happening :

There was a war on at the time.

What's on at the movies?

The band are on (= performing) in ten minutes.


planned to take place in the future :

The game is still on (= it has not been cancelled) .

I don't think we've got anything on this weekend.

I'm sorry we can't come—we've got a lot on .


on duty; working :

I'm on now till 8 tomorrow morning.


in or into a vehicle :

The bus stopped and four people got on.

They hurried on to the plane.

—see also onto


- be on about sth

- be / go / keep on about sth

- be / go / keep on at sb (to do sth)

- be on for sth

- it isn't on

- on and on

- what are you, etc. on?

- you're on

—more at off adverb



Old English on , an , of Germanic origin; related to Dutch aan and German an , from an Indo-European root shared by Greek ana .

Oxford Advanced Learner's English Dictionary.      Оксфордский английский словарь для изучающик язык на продвинутом уровне.