Archive for April 4, 2011

the difference between words: up to and depends on

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A while ago, a friend of mine asked me about the difference between “up to” and “depends on”, so that’s what I’ll write about today.

In English, “up to” is used when we want to say that a certain decision can be made by a certain person. For example:

I don’t care which movie we watch tonight. It’s up to you.

My boss left it up to me to choose the restaurant for our office party.

I’m sorry, but it’s not up to me to make this decision. I’ll have to check with my boss.

We can also use “up to” when we want to say that a certain thing is someone’s responsibility. For example:

It’s up to the department manager to make sure this project is finished by the deadline.

It was up to you to let everyone know about the schedule change, but you forgot! I’m very angry at you right now!

The accident caused a lot of damage to the environment. Now it’s up to the government to do something about it.

On the other hand, we use “depends on” when we want to talk about when a certain situation can be changed by another situation which it has a direct relationship with. For example:

I don’t know if we’ll go hiking tomorrow or not. It depends on the weather.

A: Will we have an office party this year?

B: I’m not sure. It depends on how many people accept the invitation.

I received two job offers. I don’t know which one I’m going to accept yet though. It depends on how much the salary is at each company.

So, with these last three examples, the decision that has to be made (to go hiking or not, to have an office party or not, which job offer to accept) has a direct relationship with the situation (if the weather is good, if many people accept the invitation, how much money is offered as a salary). After “depends on” we can put either a noun (as in the first example) or a clause which starts with a wh question word (as in the last two examples).

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