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fell over the coffee table Options
Tara2
Posted: Wednesday, October 21, 2020 6:31:15 PM

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Does 'over' mean 'on' or 'past'?

she tripped and fell over the coffee table.
Sarrriesfan
Posted: Wednesday, October 21, 2020 7:18:30 PM

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Tara2 wrote:
Does 'over' mean 'on' or 'past'?

she tripped and fell over the coffee table.

It means that the coffee table was the object that caused them to fall, she struck the table somehow with part of her anatomy probably a foot or a leg that caused the fall.
But she did not necessarily fall onto the coffee table, it's possible to catch just a foot a the correct angle and fall in an angle away from the table. I have done something similar to this on more than one occasion, a B12 deficiency causes nerve damage and balance problems I don't always know quite where my feet are, still what's a few cracked ribs.
It doesn't necessarily mean past either, just that the coffee table was the obstruction that caused the fall.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Wednesday, October 21, 2020 10:05:38 PM

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Hello Tara.
It's that "causative" meaning again.

Sarrriesfan explains it well, in my opinion.

Similar to "He fell over a stone" in this topic.

The "over" is not explaining the direction or 'end-point' of the fall, but its cause.

I can't see any of the (hundreds of!) definitions of "over" in The Free Dictinary page which really totally fit, but there are three (one in the Collins and two in the Webster's) which 'sort of fit'.

over
14. (particle) so as to cause to fall:
19. via; by means of:
29. so as to displace from an upright position:


He fell, from an upright position, because of the coffee table.
georgew
Posted: Wednesday, October 21, 2020 11:37:51 PM

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I agree with the excellent explanations from Sarriesfan and Drago.

Tara2
Posted: Saturday, October 24, 2020 4:22:38 PM

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Hello Drago, Sarries, georgew.
Many thanks to you all!!!
Romany
Posted: Saturday, October 24, 2020 5:25:55 PM
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Agree that you guys sorted it between yourselves - very nicely done.

But Sarries - am afraid when you said "I don't always know quite where my feet are" it conjured up a somewhat cartoonish vision and I had to grin!

(And also because it's such a very British way of describing something that must be absolutely horrific to have to live with; severely restricts your life; and is a constant source of anxiety...day after day after day.)
Sarrriesfan
Posted: Monday, October 26, 2020 6:32:47 AM

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Perhaps we should give people who wish to learn British English lessons in understatement, it might be helpful.
Romany
Posted: Monday, October 26, 2020 7:42:55 AM
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Actually, Sarries, it's not just British English that uses understatement: Australians are masters of the art; South Africans do it all the time, across the South Pacific its the way to go; and many language learners across the world tend to see it as an "English-language" thing! And it really IS taught to learners - especially in Asian countries.

(As you probably know, there is no such language as "British" English. We only started using that term here on TFD because of the political insistence of two particular posters a few years back. Doing this does, often, give a very distorted linguistic view of English!)
Sarrriesfan
Posted: Monday, October 26, 2020 7:58:17 AM

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Location: Luton, England, United Kingdom
Oh yes of course Australians are past masters at it, although I am less familiar with South Africans.
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