I am assuming "based upon" and "based on" are basically the same phrase.

In my language, "based upon" and "according to" have pretty much the same translation. What is actually the difference?

Could anyone explain this to me? Are there any example sentences that you could give me to show the difference?

EDIT: I am not sure why this is being voted down. I am here to learn, and these two phrases are very similar in Mandarin Chinese. Sorry.

  • There were no down votes to this question. Simply no up votes.
    – Hugh
    Aug 13, 2015 at 19:42

2 Answers 2


According to the Oxford English Dictionary, according to[1] is the usage of the words according and to as a compound preposition. The definition of the adjective according is:

 1. With to. Corresponding to something; agreeing, matching. Obs.*
 5. As a compound preposition. according to: as stated or formulated by.

The word according itself means:

  1. Suitable, fitting, appropriate; in accordance with something previously stated.

So according to would mean: "in accordance with", "suitable to", "appropriate to", etc.

Based on and based upon do have similar meanings, there's a good question about it here.

Oxford English Dictionary describes base[2] used as a figurative:

  1. fig.
a. A fundamental principle, an underlying basis, a foundation
b. A ground for an action or attitude; an underlying reason or justification.

They don't mention the compound usages of based upon and based on, but the meaning can be inferred. Merriam Webster describes a definition of base for kids as:

— base on or base upon

: to make or form from a starting point < It's based on a true story. >

According to states that the following statement or idea is something someone or something would agree with or have conveyed themselves. Based upon states that the following idea, statement, or work is built off of something else.

Another way to look at: according to is attempting to paraphrase or quote someone or something, while based on or based upon is creating a separate idea, work, or statement that has been influenced by or has been structured from the original.


The difference is one of trustworthiness.

Based on...
Based upon...

is an appeal to available evidence. Even if the appeal is to a named source, Merriam-Webster, or Berthon and Onions, it is the work that is referred to.

According to...

is an appeal to an authority. You can even say "According to Freud XYZ, but according Jung ABC," and then disagree with both.

I think it follows that "based on" can almost always be replaced by "according to," but not every "according to" can be replaced by "based on."

  • 1
    Based on/upon refers to a "source", whilst According to refers to "conformance". Example: the software is based on user's requirements. It was developed according to specifications.
    – Graffito
    Aug 13, 2015 at 10:37

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