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On Board vs. Onboard

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  Angbeen Chaudhary  —  Grammar Tips
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When you are safely aboard a vessel, like a cruise ship, are you onboard or on board? What about when you agree with someone’s inspiring plan to save the world? Are you onboard or on board? Actually, the answer to both of those questions is the same. On board and onboard have distinct usage cases, and both of those examples just happened to be situations where on board is correct. Confused yet? Don’t worry—I’ll explain it all below.

In this post, I will compare on board vs. onboard. I will use each term in at least one example sentence, so you can see them in context. Plus, I will show you a helpful memory tool that will make choosing on board or onboard a little easier.

On board as prepositional phrase:

The phrase on board is prepositional in nature and refers to someone who is on or in a ship, aircraft, or other vehicle.

A plane crashed with three people on board.

Onboard as adjective:

The word onboard functions as an adjective which refers to something or someone available or situated on board a ship, aircraft, or other vehicle.

On-board catering staff is very poorly trained.

Onboard as verb:

Onboard is also used as a verb which means to go through procedures to effectively integrate (a new employee) into an organization or familiarize (a new customer or client) with one's products or services.

On Board vs. Onboard

This data has tremendous value in helping to onboard new hires and manage their performance.


Justin boasts an onboard 3-D camera system for analyzing points in space. [Wired News]

Although the airline grabs headlines for threatening to charge people to use onboard toilets or save money by dumping co-pilots, it normally turns to conventional ruses. [Guardian]

At one highway fill-up, the onboard computer showed I had a range of 880 km. [National Post]

President John F. Kennedy called Shepard after he was taken on board the aircraft carrier that retrieved him from the ocean. [USA Today]

San Pietro was being sailed by the remaining crew on board. []

Onboard or on board:

These usages contain all the same letters, but they should be kept separate. Onboard is an adjective that means attached, and a verb that means to acclimate new hires to a new company. On board is an adverb or prepositional phrase that means safely aboard a vessel or in agreement. Now, let’s go over a trick to remember onboard vs. on board. Use onboard as an adjective before the noun it modifies. The phrase on board is an adverb or a prepositional phrase, and it usually goes after a verb. Since onboard is a single two-syllable word, like before, I predict you will experience only minimal difficulty remembering to use onboard before nouns.

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