Let’s say record numbers of people will watch this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship.
Can I write, “Over 100 million people will watch the game on TV”?
I can, but I’d be wrong.
I really should write, “More than 100 million people will watch the game on TV.”
That’s because you should only use “over,” “under,” “above,” “below,” “higher,” and “lower” to describe physical relationships in space. For just about everything else — especially numbers — use “more” or “less.”
The bear climbed over
the mountain. The eggs are under
the toast. The detergent is in the cabinet above
the washing machine. The creepy basement is below
the trapdoor. The ceilings here are higher
than in our old place. The river is lower
than it was last week. But there are more
than 100 people here and less
than half of them know what they are doing.
There are some exceptions. For example, you can use the “space words” metaphorically. For example, “The CEO is above
everyone and she often holds her authority over
us.” Or, “Grammar Trap standards seem much lower
It’s also acceptable to use “above,” “below,” and the rest when referring to temperature. We say it is “below zero” not “less than zero.” Most likely, this harks back to the old days of reading the temperature by the mercury level in thermometers. Still, there are less
than 3 inches of snow, not under
I can’t say I’ve helped more than 100 million people with this advice, but I hope I hear more than a little positive feedback.