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Write the Right Word: Over vs. More Than

Despite common usage, “over” is not a substitute for “more than.”

“Over” generally refers to spatial relationships. For example: “The plane flew over the field three times.” Or this: “Place a blanket over your flowers to protect them from frost.”

Use “more than” when referring to numbers. For example: “This year’s wheat crop produced more than 40 bushels per acre.” Or this: “The building is more than 10 stories tall.”

If you don’t want to use “more than, “try “exceed” or “in excess.” For example: “The total value of the land exceeds $5 million.” Or this: “North Dakota producers planted in excess of 2.5 million acres of corn in 2010.”

The same rule applies for “under” and “less than:” Use “under” for spatial relationships and “less than” or “fewer than” for numbers.

Ellen Crawford, information specialist, (701) 231-5391

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