Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Pet Peeves

Jennifer's biggest pet peeves…or some of them!

I read a great book* yesterday. It was one I found while browsing on Amazon by an author I’ve never heard of. The e-book was inexpensive, so I decided to try it. I began reading and loved it.

However, being an author, and in the middle of editing my own manuscript, I picked up on a few editing issues. They weren’t enough to make me stop reading the story, but they definitely irked me.

The biggest issue for me was the use of “passed” for “past.” “Passed” is a verb and means moved. “Past” is a noun and is the time period before the one in which you’re speaking. The author definitely meant the noun, but used the verb instead. It annoyed me.

And it made me think of what other word pet peeves I have. On any given day on Facebook, I run across several. I’d be mean to point them out or to comment publically about them, especially since I’m sure I make many myself (maybe even in this specific blog post). Social media is a quick thing, where you stop in, post and leave. Mistakes are a given. Books, however, are not supposed to be careless.

But I will confess to my biggest pet peeve of all—the use, or misuse, of the word “over.” As a preposition, it means extending directly upward (I saw flames over Berlin) or expressing trajectory across (she walked over the lawn). As an adverb, it means expressing passage or trajectory across an area (he leaned over and tapped me) or in or to the place mentioned (over here). It’s also a noun and refers to a cricket term.

It does not, has never, and as far as I’m concerned never will, mean “more than.” It’s not “he’s over six feet tall,” but “he’s more than six feet tall.” It isn’t “I have over 300 Facebook friends,” but “I have more than 300 Facebook friends.”

The word “over” definitely takes up less space than “more than,” but it is not a substitution for it. Ever.

Rant finished (also not “over”).

*Because I’ve made criticism of the book, I will not mention the title or author here. Sorry.


  1. Great topic, Jen.

    My dictionary's "over" meanings as a preposition:
    1. in or at a position higher than ___
    2. above and across, as in jump over
    3. on the other side of ___
    4. upon the surface of ___
    5. All through, as in a tour over the countryside
    6. so as to cover or close, as in a cave entrance
    7. up to or higher than _____
    8. through the period of or duration
    9. more than in degree...over 30 miles away
    10. until or beyond a duration: over 20 years...
    11. in opreference to.. choose one over another
    12. in a position of control over something
    13. directed toward as in influence over
    14. with reference to ____
    15 while being occupied or engaged with as in chat over dessert.
    16. with reference to as in argue over the bill
    The definitions go on....
    What a busy word 'over' is.

  2. I'm going to argue with your dictionary on 9 and 10. :)

  3. Evidently the 'over' and 'more than' tradition is American, not British - see http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/more-than-versus-over?page=all
    In Britain, they are interchangeable, and 'over' is oommonly used with ages and other numbers as in 'Over 18s' etc. Similarly with 'less than' and 'under'!

    My pet peeve is when I read, 'She was sat' and 'He was stood'.

  4. I understand it, Paula, but I'm not accepting it. :) And I've never, ever seen "she was sat" or "he was stood."

  5. I read a novel once where the author wrote 'he was stood' etc all the time. I've even seen similar inaccuracies in magazines.

    Evidently the 'over and 'more than' thing was started by a NY editor in 1877, and has since appeared in American style guides (even though it was only the editor's own personal preference!)

  6. He was stood? Was he a doll or marionette? A window mannequin?

  7. LOL< Ana - you just echoed my English teacher there! I can still hear her voice when criticised someone in the class (not me!) who had written 'He was stood' in an essay - "What is he then? A cardboard figure? A dummy in a shop window? Use the verb or the participle, girl, not both. He stood or he was standing, never he was stood!"

  8. I have to admit...according to your terms, I misuse over a lot.

    Some of my pet peeves are when people use 'should of' instead of 'should have' and 'mine as well' instead of 'might as well'.

    Don't even get me started on Facebook, Twitter, texts, and e-mail. Soon we're going to have a society that can't spell or use proper punctuation.

  9. Ohh where should I hide myself... I am guilty of misusing over :) thanks for the.post.

  10. Okay, just for the record, I don't judge the person who misuses words (or in my own opinion misuses words). I just hate the usage. :) And Debra, you're totally right about social media! Thanks for reading Rajlakshmi!