'On Holiday' or 'On a Holiday' or 'For a Holiday': Which is Correct?

By Shanea Patterson, updated on February 28, 2023

Are you wondering which phrase is correct to use, ‘on holiday’ or ‘on a holiday’? We’ll help you make the right choice, plus teach you how to pronounce them and use them in a sentence correctly.

Need a quick answer? Here it is:

  • The correct way to say this phrase is ‘on holiday.’ ‘Holiday’ is a British term for the word ‘vacation.’
  • To say ‘on a holiday’ is incorrect, and so is ‘for a holiday.’

If you replace ‘holiday’ with ‘vacation,' does it still makes sense? If not, you're likely using it wrong.

Which is Correct – ‘On Holiday’ or ‘For a Holiday’?

We’ve just learned that ‘on holiday’ is the correct way to say this phrase. It’s a British English term used to mean ‘vacation.’

  • In America, we say we’re going on vacation.
  • But in other English-speaking countries, you might hear that someone is going ‘on holiday.’

They both mean the same thing.

But since they don’t sound the same, they don’t qualify as homophones.

‘On Holiday,’ ‘On a Holiday or ‘For a Holiday’?

We’ve already ruled out that ‘for a holiday’ would be incorrect and ungrammatical.

But what about ‘on a holiday’?

Well, technically, that’s incorrect as well.

Remember, we said that ‘holiday’ is meant to replace ‘vacation.’

So, would it make sense to say, “I’m going on a vacation?”

Okay, it would.

But that’s not the correct way people use the term ‘holiday.’ Therefore, you should avoid using ‘on a holiday’ and opt instead for ‘on holiday.’

Definition and Meaning of ‘On Holiday’

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of ‘on holiday’ is:

  • Experiencing time away from home, school, or business, usually in order to relax or travel.

It’s considered an idiom, which is a word or phrase in the English language that doesn’t have a literal meaning. It typically means something other than the literal definition of the word.

Other idioms include bite the bullet (get something over with because it’s inevitable) and break a leg (good luck).

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce ‘On Holiday’

Are you unsure of how to pronounce this phrase? Here’s a short guide.

To pronounce this phrase correctly, check out the phonetic spelling:


How to Use ‘On Holiday’ in a Sentence

Since we know what the phrase means now and how to pronounce it, let’s see how to use it in a sentence correctly.

  • Time flies whenever we go on holiday. I wish it would slow down.
  • I’m not sure where Adam is taking me on holiday this year. We usually spring for tropical destinations.
  • We were so shocked that Mara got so sick on holiday. I hope she doesn’t have food poisoning.
  • Aaliyah suggested we go to Ghana on holiday this year to try something different than we normally do.
  • Where do you want to go on holiday over spring break? I was thinking of Paris or Italy, but we can go wherever you want.

Final Thoughts on ‘On Holiday,’ ‘On a Holiday’ and ‘For a Holiday’

To recap, we learned that:

  • The only correct way to say this phrase is ‘on holiday.’ ‘On holiday’ is used in British English (and other English-speaking countries), and it means ‘vacation.’
  • To say ‘on a holiday’ is incorrect, and so is ‘for a holiday.’

Replace ‘holiday’ with ‘vacation’ and see if it still makes sense. If so, you're likely correct.

If you ever get stuck on anything, you can always come back to review what you learned. We’ve got a ton of content on confusing words and phrases you might come across while learning the English language. Feel free to pop back over anytime you need to.

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Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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