the difference between words: overwork and work overtime


Today I’d like to go over another common misunderstanding that many of my students have: the difference between “overwork” and “overtime”. When someone works longer than their regular scheduled hours, we say that they “work overtime”. However, when someone is working too hard or too much, we saying they are “overworking”. Therefore, the word “overtime” is a noun, and the word “overwork” is a verb. Here are some examples of how to use them in sentences.

I have to work a lot of overtime right now because my company is in the middle of a huge project.

My boss asked me to work overtime tonight, so I won’t be able to have dinner with you. I’m sorry.

Ben looks so tired these days. He’s really overworking right now. He needs to take a break.

My husband has been overworking himself trying to get his business off the ground.

The term “work overtime” is neutral in meaning, but the word “overwork” is always considered negative because it means to work too much. Whenever we use “too”, the situation is always considered bad.

Please note that in my last example I used “overworking himself”. It’s very common to use words  like “myself”, “yourself”, “himself”, “ourselves”, etc. after the verb “overwork”. In these cases, it means that it’s the person’s choice to work extremely hard, but that it’s too much.

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