What is the difference between on, over, and above?

All these are prepositions and impart a sense of being something on the top of some other object. Therefore, we can say that all of them have a similar meaning-not largely but at least to some extent. However, similar meaning yet varied definitions still confuse many learners. So, here I explain the correct and simple definition along with the usage of these three confusing words.

1. On

Definition: Having covered something; part of the surface

A simple definition of ‘On’ is-One thing is covering the other. Generally, it touches the other object or its surface. Also, it can a part of the surface in some scenarios. For instance, putting paste to the brush.


  • Write it down on a piece of paper.
  • Sit on the chair.
  • I put on the latest pair of jeans, which I bought last week.

2. Over

Definition: Covering; on to of

On is used when one thing covers another or lays on the top of it. Although, this definition matches the definition of On and On often replaces over when it’s used to convey ‘on top of.’

In addition, when you say over, it conveys a sense of movement as well as a sense of covering a larger area.


  • The plane flies over the sea. (Suggesting movement)
  • Put the cream over the cake.
  • Sit over there.

3. Above

Definition: In a higher place. ‘Over’ is also used in place of it.

Above is usually used when you want to say that something is higher than another object. Moreover, it also hints of a certain position.


  • The temple is above the hill.
  • The king sits above the rest of his courtiers.
  • A Manager is above an Assistant Manager.