Posted by: Idioma Extra | August 11, 2011

Thursday Tidbit – Over and out

Over and out 

There are thousands of verbs in the English language. In addition to the basic verbs, there are tens of thousands of “new” verbs that are created by adding a prefix to a base verb.  Here, we will look at two specific prefixes added to verbs: over and out.  Here is a short explanation:

Over+ verb

When the prefix “over” is added to a verb, it takes on the meaning “too much” or “dominate.” Here are some examples:





To do too much of something; more than is required You need to exercise, but don’t overdo it! You could hurt yourself.


To eat too much of something On Thanksgiving, people tend to overeat and they feel tired and sleepy afterward.


To think too much; more than is required The students were overthinking the solution to the problem. The answer was actually pretty easy.


To sleep later than you planned to I’m in trouble at work because I overslept and arrived late to work.


To spend more than you planned People tend to overspend when buying presents during the Christmas holidays because they feel good.


To remove by force and take control; to throw something farther than planned The military overthrew the government and took control.


To have too much of something; crowded The house was overrun with mice.


To take too much money out of the bank or an account The bank charged me $20 for overdrawing cash from the account.



Out + verb

Using the prefix “out’ with a base verb gives the meaning “to do more or better than.” Here are some examples:


To do better than someone or something Computers can outdo people with respect to remembering information.


To do eat more than someone or something My nephew, who is only half my size, outate me at Thanksgiving dinner!


To think better or faster than someone or something There is a big debate about whether computers can outthink humans in chess.
outlast To last longer than someone or something My brother can outlast anyone on the dance floor: he can dance all night long!


To spend more than someone My wife easily outspends me in any given month.


To sell more than someone The goal is to outsell everyone else in the sales department.


To run faster than someone or something A cheetah can outrun most animals.


To grow bigger than your clothes can fit Children tend to outgrow their clothes very quickly.

Check Yourself

Underline the correct word to complete the sentence.

1. He’s putting more effort into the job than he needs to. He is outdoing / overdoing it.

2. The city was outrun / overrun with protesters.

3. There are competitions to see who can overeat / outeat everyone else.

4. Tomorrow’s meeting is very important. Don’t oversleep / outsleep!

5. Who do you think outspends / overspends the other in a month: Donald Trump or Paris Hilton?

6. I’ve gained a lot of weight since college. I’ve overgrown / outgrown most of my clothes.

7. Don’t outthink / overthink I the problem. It’s actually quite simple.

8. I was always the fastest kid in high school. I could overrun / outrun everyone.

9. Who do you think outsells / oversells the other: Pepsi or Coca-Cola?

10. The weeds in my garden are outgrown / overgrown. I need to cut them.

 Answers to last week’s Check Yourself:

1. If I go to the beach, I _might/may_ surf a little, but I’m not sure. ___possibility___

2. You are in pretty good shape, but you __should/ought to___ try to exercise regularly. That’s my  opinion at least. __recommendation__

3. If I won the lottery, I __would__ buy a huge house. __hypothetical____

4. I don’t need glasses. I __can__ see perfectly. ___ability__

5. The presentation is at 5pm today. I __must_ finish preparing it before then. _obligation__

6. I __may/might__ take a vacation at the end of the year if I have enough money. __possibility__

7. She __would__ lose weight if she exercised more. ___hypothetical___

8. A cheetah __can__ run very fast. ___ability___

9. I feel a little dizzy. I __should / ought to__ rest for a little while. ___recommendation__

10. Long hair is not permitted in the military. You ___must_ cut your hair. _obligation__

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