General Writing and Grammar Help/Sign on & sign up

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Question
Dear Ted:

Which of the following sentences is correct and natural?

1) He just signed ON with a new trainer.

2) He just signed UP with a new trainer.

If both are possible, do they have the same meaning?

If not, when should I use each of them?

Would you please give me some examples?

Thank you very much for your kind help.

Paolo

Answer
Dear Paolo:

1) He just signed ON with a new trainer.

2) He just signed UP with a new trainer.

If both are possible, do they have the same meaning?

If not, when should I use each of them?

Would you please give me some examples?

*** The two phrases, in almost all instances, mean the same thing.  You can sign UP to join an organization, to support a cause [as in signing a petition], and to change something, such as an internet provider.  EXAMPLE:  He was dissatisfied with Yahoo, so he signed UP with Hotmail.
"Signed on" CAN be used in all of these examples.

However, "signed ON" is used for very specific instances.

Paolo, we are supporting a new candidate for office.  Will you SIGN ON with us?  [I have heard people use "sign up with us," but "sign on" is preferred.]

The contract is not valid until both parties SIGN ON at the appropriate places on the document.

When I use the internet, I must SIGN ON with my personal password.

*** In the examples immediately above, you cannot use "sign up."

Ted

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Ted Nesbitt

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I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

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I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

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B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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