I just used "prevail on" in a sentence. The whole sentence was: "If we can prevail on them to provide some donuts, the meeting may be more attractive." Should I have said "upon"?

I understand there is another question here which marks "upon" as just being more formal: Use of "upon" or "on" in phrase

So let's keep the scope of this question just on frequency/appropriateness in conjunction with "prevail".

1 Answer 1


Both on and upon are commonly used:

prevail on/upon sb

(phrasal verb with prevail UK ​- formal)

to persuade someone to do something that they do not want to do:

  • He was eventually prevailed upon to accept the appointment.

(Cambridge Dictionary)

See also Google Books: prevail/ed on/upon

  • Thanks! That Google Books tool provides amazing hard data on usage, I've never seen that. In the end, the language is what it is, and the tool provides the empirical evidence. Sep 14, 2018 at 22:29
  • Also based on Google it looks like "prevail on", my initial tendency, corresponds to current usage: books.google.com/ngrams/… Sep 14, 2018 at 23:29

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