Welcome Aboard vs Welcome On Board - Learn the Differences

english phrases Dec 01, 2021
Welcome Aboard vs Welcome On Board

There are subtle differences between ‘welcome aboard’ and ‘welcome on board.’  The most important difference between these two phrases is the part of speech of ‘aboard’ and ‘on board.’  Grammatically, ‘aboard’ and ‘onboard’ are different parts of speech. However, the meaning of these phrases is essentially identical and we can use either ‘welcome aboard’ and ‘welcome on board’ interchangeably without changing the meaning of the phrase.  


‘Aboard’ and ‘on board’ originated from getting onto a ship, plane or train, however, their meaning has extended to businesses or becoming part of a team. The English language is constantly evolving and phrases are continually being used in new contexts.  ‘Aboard’ and ‘on board’ would have originally been used to welcome people onto a ship or train and later adopted for air travel and then, thereafter, in a business context. The English language is always changing, so it’s important to stay up to date with and learn English vocabulary and the ways English vocabulary is used in today’s world.   


In this blog, we will look at the meaning of these phrases and how to use them correctly. We’re here to help you learn how to use these phrases correctly in every context.  If you can use these phrases correctly across all contexts then you will sound like a native English speaker.  


What Does “Welcome Aboard” Mean?

Aboard is both an adverb and a preposition which means ‘on a plane, train, or boat.’ We can say ‘please come aboard,’ (adverb) or ‘is everyone aboard the aircraft?’ (preposition) Alternatively, ‘aboard’ also refers to joining a company.  If your boss says ‘welcome aboard,’ then they are welcoming you to the work team.  


When We Use Welcome Aboard 

We can use ‘welcome aboard’ when someone has recently arrived on a plane, train, boat or another mode of transport.  Usually, the air hostess, stewards, cabin crew, pilot or conductor will welcome passengers aboard.  However, this phrase has since evolved and we can use it in more contexts than that of its origin.

‘Welcome aboard’ can also be used in business.  In business, there is the ‘onboarding process’ which refers to the training time before someone joins a team and ‘welcome aboard’ and ‘welcome on board’ refer to welcoming the new employee to the team.  


The reason we can use ‘welcome aboard’ in a business context is that we view businesses and teams as a vessel that is constantly moving forward.  Once we are aboard a team, we are part of a system that aims to move forward together.  


How You Should Respond on Welcome Aboard 

If someone is welcoming you aboard in a business context, start by thanking them.  If you’re in a meeting, you may want to briefly introduce yourself - but keep it short.  If they’re welcoming you via email then express your gratitude and mention how excited you are to join the team.


How to Use Welcome Aboard in The Sentences 

‘Welcome aboard’ is a greeting that we use to welcome someone onto a mode of transport or to welcome them to a new job to make them feel like part of a team.  It’s important to make the person we are welcoming feel relaxed and truly welcome.  The person is new to the business, so extending a helping hand and letting them know they can come to you if you need help is a great way to welcome someone aboard.


If we’re welcoming someone onto an airplane, boat or train then we will simply say:


“Hello and welcome aboard.”

“Welcome aboard.  Please make yourself comfortable.”

“Welcome aboard the flight to New York.”


In a business context, ‘welcome aboard’ is a way of saying ‘welcome to the team.’  We can use ‘welcome aboard’ in a business context in the following ways:


“We would like to say welcome aboard.  Reach out to us if you have any questions.”

“We’re happy to say your onboarding training was successful.  Welcome aboard!”

“Let’s welcome Harry aboard.”

“Welcome aboard.  Let us know if you need anything.”

“We are happy to welcome you aboard.”


What Does “Welcome On Board” Mean

‘Welcome on board’ means welcome onto this plane, train or boat.  ‘On board’ refers to the place; which was most likely a board used to get onto the ship or train.  


When We Use Welcome On Board 

We can use ‘welcome on board’ in the same way that we use ‘welcome aboard.’  ‘Welcome on board’ is more formal.  It is more common for pilots, cabin crew and conductors to say ‘welcome on board’ when passengers board a vessel.  


This term is also commonly used to welcome someone to a team.  A team that will work together and keep moving forward in the same way that a train, plane and boat do.  ‘‘Welcome aboard’ is more common when welcoming someone to a team.  However, the difference in meaning is unnoticeable and choosing one phrase over another will make no difference to the meaning of your sentence.  


How You Should Respond on Welcome On Board 

Your response will depend on the context of the situation.  If a member of the cabin crew welcomes you on board an aircraft, then a simple ‘thank you’ is a great response.


In a business context, you can also say ‘thank you.’  It is a safe way to respond to ‘welcome on board’ to show your gratitude if you don’t have much more to say.  You can also express your gratitude by saying how excited you are to join the team and to be part of the group working on projects that interest you.  


If you’re being welcomed on board by a group then this is a great opportunity to introduce yourself briefly.  You can also use this opportunity to ask any pressing questions that you have when starting a new job.  


How to Use Welcome On Board in The Sentences

We only ever use the term ‘welcome on board’ when we are welcoming a new member to a team or a new traveller onto a mode of transport.  It would be inappropriate and it wouldn’t make much sense to say ‘welcome on board’ to an employee who has been part of a team for a while.  However, you can say ‘welcome on board’ to an old employee who has moved to another department and joined a new team.  

‘Welcome on board’ can be used as a stand-alone statement to welcome someone onto a vessel or welcome them to the team.  We don’t necessarily need to add any other words to complete this phrase, however, we usually say something else to make the person we are welcoming feel comfortable.


If a traveller is entering a train, plane or boar, we can say:


“Welcome on board.  Please let us know if you need anything.”

“We would like to welcome you on board the aircraft.”

“Welcome on board.  We trust you will have a good trip.”


If you are a member of a team and you would like to welcome a new member to your team say:


“Welcome on board.  We are happy to have you here.”

“We are looking forward to working with you.  Welcome on board.”

“We would like to welcome Sarah on board.  Today is her first day.”


What Are The Main Differences Between “Welcome Aboard” and “Welcome On Board” 

If we pick these phrases apart, we can find some subtle differences in their meaning and their uses.


The first important point is that ‘aboard’ is an adverb and a preposition.  This means that it describes the verb or a direction.  ‘Aboard’ is not a place.  It is a direction.  It needs to go directly next to the verb without a preposition between the verb and ‘aboard.’  We cannot go ‘to aboard’ because ‘aboard’ is not one specific place.  It simply means ‘on a vessel’ or ‘in a team.’


‘Board,’ on the other hand, is a noun.  It is a physical place.  The ‘board’ in ‘on board’ is most likely derived from the board that was used for travellers to get onto a boat or train.  The fact that the ‘board’ is a place means that we need a preposition between the verb and ‘board.’  The preposition that we use with ‘board’ is ‘on.’  This creates the sentence ‘welcome on board.’  


Aside from the part of speech of each of these words, there are other formality differences between ‘welcome aboard’ and ‘welcome on board.’  ‘Welcome aboard’ is considered to be more informal.  We usually use it when speaking informally to welcome someone onto a vessel or to a team.  ‘Welcome on board,’ on the other hand, is more formal and more suitable when it comes to welcoming someone to a team via email.  


The only difference between these two phrases is that ‘welcome aboard’ is considered less formal than ‘welcome on board.’ However, using one instead of the other is not a faux pas and you’re not at risk of offending anyone if you use ‘aboard’ instead of ‘on board.’


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