Last week, one of my readers wanted to know the difference between “above” and “over”, so that’s what I’ll write about today.
Generally, they have the same meaning, and that is for something to be placed in a higher position to something else. However, the word “above” can either have a word following it or not. In the case of “over”, there must be a word which follows it. For example:
The clouds above are very dark.
The clouds above us are very dark.
The clouds over us are very dark.
The bedroom is on the second floor just above.
The bedroom is on the second floor just above where we are standing.
The bedroom is on the second floor just over where we are standing.
If we say, “above” without any words following it, it sounds very formal. Also, in my opinion, using “above” + something is a little more formal than “over” + something.
We can also use these words to talk about a thing which is higher in number when comparing it to what is considered normal. For example:
You have a fever. Your temperature is 2 degrees above the normal temperature.
You have a fever. Your temperature is 2 degrees over the normal temperature.
This furniture store is very expensive. Their prices are about 20% above all the other furniture stores in this city.
This furniture store is very expensive. Their prices are about 20% over all the other furniture stores in this city.
Once again, in my opinion, I think using “above” is slightly more formal than “over”.
We can also use “over” in ways that we cannot use “above”. The word “over” can also by used when talking about movement that goes above and across something. For example:
The horses jumped over the fence and ran away.
I saw a car run over a dog this morning. It was horrible!
The word “over” can also be used to talk about something covering the entire surface of something else. In these cases, we often put the word “all” in front of it. For example:
When you’re cooking the chicken, make sure that the oil goes all over the chicken.
There is dust all over this table! I want you to clean it right now!
We walked all over the zoo yesterday. It’s a big place, so we were very tired.
I went all over the city trying to find the paint you wanted, but I couldn’t find it.
We can also use “over” to talk about unknown numbers or amounts. For example:
I have over 200 DVDs in my apartment. I really love movies!
I’m not sure how much this chair weighs, but I’m sure it’s over 20 kg.
It will take over three hours to get to Toronto by car from here.
There are several other ways in which we can use these words, especially “over”. If you would like more information about the detailed ways to use them, I recommend The Free Dictionary. The link for that site is on my blog.