Learn English – on route vs en route


I saw today a local college (in the UK) has taken out an advert on the side of the local bus which states:

on route to a better future.

I'd personally expect it to be en route.

Is this an indictment against the college not knowing the correct form, or could it be considered to make sense in that the bus is "on the route" to the college?

Best Answer

On route is a less common variant of the original expression en route:

  • The French loan phrase en route, pronounced on root, means (1) on or along the way, or (2) on the road. It is sometimes written on route. This form is logical as it conveys roughly the same meaning as en route, but readers who are familiar with the French term might consider it a misspelling. En route is also sometimes written as one word—enroute. This spelling is common enough to have earned its way into some dictionaries, but the two-word form is still more common.

  • En route has been in English a long time, so it is no longer italicized in normal use (we italicize it here because it’s a phrase presented out of context).

( The Grammatist)

As suggested here, the preposition "on" should be used in specific cases:

  • En route comes from the French – 18th Century French, so it’s been around for long enough that it’s stuck and isn’t likely to be that pliable. You can use on route, but only in a very specific sense, when talking about named roads in places like America. And then there’ll be a capital in the middle, and you’re not using it in precisely the same way. So, “On Route 66 I found a lovely motel” – fine. But in all other cases: “I was en route to Chicago when I happened upon a charming hotel” – also fine.