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Quick answer
"Upon" is a preposition which is often translated as "en", and "onto" is a preposition which is often translated as "a". Learn more about the difference between "upon" and "onto" below.
upon(
uh
-
pan
)
A preposition is a word that indicates the relationship between a noun and another word (e.g. He ran through the door.).
1. (on)
a. en
He put his hand upon my hip and we danced.Puso su mano en mi cadera y bailamos.
b. sobre
I placed candles upon the mantel.Coloqué velas sobre la repisa.
2. (about)
a. sobre
She informed the audience of her thoughts upon the issue.Ella informó a la audiencia de sus pensamientos sobre el tema.
3. (immediately after)
a. al
Upon realizing what the situation was, he left.Al darse cuenta de la situación, se fue.
b. en cuanto
Upon seeing the body, she began to cry.En cuanto vio el cuerpo, se puso a llorar.
c. tras
Upon the president's arrival, the national anthem was sung.Tras la llegada del presidente, se cantó el himno nacional.
4. (used to indicate large amounts)
a. y
Thousands upon thousands of dead fish appeared on the beach.Aparecieron miles y miles de peces muertos en la playa.
b. tras
He drank beer upon beer until he passed out.Bebió una cerveza tras otra hasta que se desmayó.
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onto(
an
-
tu
)
A preposition is a word that indicates the relationship between a noun and another word (e.g. He ran through the door.).
1. (on top of)
a. a
The child climbed onto bed and sat next to his mother.El niño trepó a la cama y se sentó junto a su madre.
b. en
One of the engines stopped working, and the pilot had to land onto a golf course.Una de las turbinas falló y el piloto tuvo que aterrizar en un campo de golf.
c. sobre
I knocked over a glass, and wine spilled onto the table.Volqué un vaso y el vino se derramó sobre la mesa
2.
A word or phrase that is commonly used in conversational speech (e.g. skinny, grandma).
(colloquial)
(aware of)
a.
This refers to an idiomatic word or phrase for which there is no word-for-word translation.
no direct translation
I knew you were onto something, but I never imagined it was a surprise party for me.Sabía que estabas tramando algo, pero nunca me imaginé que sería una fiesta sorpresa para mí.
The mental-health patient claims that spies and aliens are onto him.El paciente de salud mental dice que hay espías y extraterrestres que andan tras él.
3. (in contact with)
a.
This refers to an idiomatic word or phrase for which there is no word-for-word translation.
no direct translation
My boss has been onto me all month to have the project finished.Mi jefe estuvo encima de mí todo el mes para que terminara el proyecto.
Our son arrived safe and sound. I've just been onto him on the phone.Nuestro hijo llegó sano y salvo. Acabo de comunicarme con él por teléfono.
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