“Upon Receiving” vs. “When Receiving” – Difference Explained

All words can have different meanings, even when those meanings appear to have the same meaning. This article will go over the difference between “upon receiving’ and “when receiving” so their meaning is clear.

What Is The Difference Between “Upon Receiving” And “When Receiving”?

The difference between the phrases “upon receiving” and “when receiving” is the timing of something having been given to you. “When receiving” is used when you want to indicate immediately when receiving while “upon receiving” is used for shortly after you have received something.

upon receiving vs when receiving

If you are receiving something, you should use “when receiving” as it is currently happening. When something has just happened or will happen shortly in the future and cause a secondary action, you should use the phrase “upon receiving”.

What Does “Upon Receiving” Mean?

“Upon receiving” is a phrase used to show that an action will be taken shortly after something has been received, whether the item has already been received or has yet to arrive. Once something has been received, a secondary action will occur.

This phrase can be properly defined once broken down. Cambridge Dictionary defines “upon” as “can be used to show that something happens soon after, and often because of, something else”. “Receiving” is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as “to get or be given something.”

When these two definitions are combined, you can define “upon receiving” as “showing that something happens soon after, and often because of you get or are given something”.

Here are some examples of how to use “upon receiving” correctly.

  • Upon receiving her test results, she immediately showed her parents.
  • You are to call me upon receiving the package I’ve ordered.
  • Upon receiving these instructions, you are to begin working.
  • Upon receiving chocolates from Luke, the two of them shared a few.
  • She woke up upon receiving a paw to the face and went to feed Bosco.

What Does “When Receiving” Mean?

“When receiving” is a phrase that can be used to show you are now receiving something. This phrase is used to describe what is going on in the moment as you are being given some sort of object or item.

In order to define this phrase, it needs to be broken down into its base words. The Cambridge Dictionary defines “received” as “to get or be given something.” The word “when” is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as “at what time; at the time at which”.

When these definitions are put together, you have a definition for “when receiving”. The definition for “when receiving” is “at what time or the time at which you get or are given something.

Below are a few examples of how to use the phrase “when receiving” in a sentence for you to reference.

  • When receiving a present, you must always say thank you before opening it.
  • I had to sign a sheet when receiving my package from the postal system.
  • You may experience a little bit of pain when receiving an injection.
  • She made every effort not to peek when receiving her gift.
  • When receiving a tour, always be respectful to those around you.

Can “Upon Receiving” And “When Receiving” Be Used Interchangeably?

The phrase “upon receiving” and the phrase “when receiving” cannot be used interchangeably, as they denote a difference in time and actions. Because “upon” means after you have received something and “when” means the moment of receiving something, the phrases should not be used interchangeably.

Although the two phrases should not be used interchangeably, they often are used interchangeably, as many people do not understand the nuances and believe “upon receiving” and “when receiving” to mean the same thing. This leads to both phrases being used interchangeably.

Is ‘Upon Receiving” Or “When Receiving” Used The Most?

The phrase “upon receiving” is used the most, according to this Google Ngram Viewer showing a helpful comparison of the usage of the two words over the past few hundred years. “When receiving” has been used frequently enough to be consistent in its usage, but not enough to be notable.

upon receiving vs when receiving english usage

As it can be seen in the aforementioned Google Ngram Viewer, “upon receiving” has always been the most popular choice. Being used almost ten times as much as “when receiving”, this phrase has been popular since before the 1800s.

Though the usage of “upon receiving” has declined over the decades, it has still managed to remain the more popular of the two phrases to this day.

Is It “Upon Receiving” Or “Upon Receipt”?

Both “upon receiving” and “upon receipt” are both correct options which can be used to show an action must be taken after you have received something. The reason both are correct is because the word “receipt” is a form of the word “receiving”.

Below are a few examples of how “upon receipt” can be used in a sentence.

  • Upon receipt of new information, a town meeting was held.
  • Upon receipt of your letter, I knew what needed to be done.
  • Please remove all pertinent signs upon receipt of this notice.
  • An official inquiry was started upon receipt of the fax.
  • The client has been instructed to open the files upon receipt.

Is It Ever Correct To Use “Upon Received”?

While “upon received” may not sound correct, there are a few circumstances where it would be an appropriate phrase to use. The reason it sounds incorrect is due to the fact that “upon” implies you have yet to receive something, but “received” implies you have already been given something.

Here are a few examples of how “upon received” can be used correctly.

  • The meter is updated upon received input from other meters.
  • She drew upon received notions to describe what she was seeing.
  • The system can define future behavior and the impact something will have upon received requests.

“Upon Receiving” And “When Receiving” Synonyms

Provided below are synonyms for “upon receiving”.

  • After Receiving
  • When You Have
  • Once You Have
  • After Collecting
  • Got

Provided below are synonyms for ‘when receiving”.

  • Being Given
  • When Given
  • When Collecting
  • When Getting
  • Being Gifted

You may also like: On Receipt vs. Upon Receipt vs. In Receipt