Depend on/upon

woman in black jacket sitting beside brown dog on rock near body of water during daytime
Type: Phrasal Verbs
Originally published on March 14, 2023 and last updated on May 8, 2023

Using conversation questions with the phrasal verb “depend on/upon” is an effective way for English learners to practice their speaking skills while practicing phrasal verbs naturally through conversation. It also helps them to build confidence in their speaking abilities and overcome the fear of making mistakes.

Review the meaning of the phrasal verb with your students first to make sure they understand how to use it correctly, and then go through the different conversation questions. Ask them to try and include the phrasal verb naturally in their answers.

Meaning and Examples

“Depend on/upon” is a phrasal verb that means to be influenced, determined, or contingent upon something or someone. It can also mean to trust, rely, or be confident in someone or something.


“The success of the project depends on the cooperation of all team members”.
“She depends on her parents for financial support”.
“The outcome of the game depends on the performance of the players”.

While both “depend on” and “depend upon” are grammatically correct and have the same meaning, “depend on” is more frequently used in modern English. “Depend upon” sounds slightly more formal and old-fashioned, and it is less commonly used in everyday speech.

Conversation Questions

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  • Do you think you depend too much on technology in your personal and professional life?
  • How much do you depend on your friends, family or a partner for emotional support?
  • In what ways do you depend upon your community or society for resources and opportunities?
  • How much do you depend on your own abilities, skills and knowledge to succeed in life?
  • Do you think it is important to depend on your routine, habits and schedule to feel organized and productive?
  • How would you cope if you had to depend upon someone else for your basic needs and well-being?
  • Is it acceptable for people to depend on drugs or prescription medications to manage their physical and mental health?
  • Is it safe for nations to depend on foreign imports for essential goods, such as food and medicine?
  • Should we depend upon the main stream media for accurate information and unbiased reporting, or is critical thinking necessary?
  • Is it appropriate for countries to depend on tourism as a major source of revenue and economic growth?
  • Should governments depend on mandatory vaccination programs to control the spread of disease?
This conversation topic was prepared by Gregory

Gregory is a qualified TEFL teacher who has been teaching English as a Foreign Language (ESL) for over a decade. He has taught in-person classes in Spain and to English learners around the world online.