I am uncertain about the terms "determine [something]" and "determine on [something]." These words seem to have similar meanings, but possibly with different connotations. Consider this example:

What determines whether you are a career success or a failure?

In this sentence I'm puzzled by the difference, if any, between "determines whether" (which the sentence uses) and "determines on whether" (which it doesn't). How do the meaning of the two wordings differ in sense?

  • 1
    sth means "something"? – Ast Pace May 31 '15 at 15:39
  • Hello, Vividdung, and welcome to English Language & Usage. Your question indicates that you suspect that "determine something" and "determine on something" have somewhat different meanings—which I think is an accurate perception—but you don't give potential answerers much more to go on. What have you uncovered in your own research to suggest that a difference exists? Where have you encountered the phrases, and what contextual clues to a difference in meaning did you notice? – Sven Yargs Jun 1 '15 at 19:15
  • Hi, Sven Yargs, I have encountered the phrases in my English composition book. The example is "What determines whether you are a career success or a failure?" In this sentence I'm puzzled by what the difference between determine something and determine on something. – Vividdung Jun 2 '15 at 15:28

They are quite different in meaning. Oxford Learner's Dictionaries brings the different senses out well:

determine [transitive]: to discover the facts about something; to calculate something exactly

synonym: establish

determine something An inquiry was set up to determine the cause of the accident.

determine what, whether, etc… We set out to determine exactly what happened that night.

it is determined that… It was determined that she had died of natural causes.


[transitive, intransitive] determine to do something ... determine on [doing] something: to decide definitely to do something They determined to start early. [They determined on an early start / starting early.]

  • Hi Edwi Ashworth, As an ESL speaker, I'm puzzled by these... could you please quote me some examples? – Vividdung Jun 2 '15 at 15:06

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.