I have a sentence here and hard to judge if it is a preposition or an adverb.

"Over 500 people were buried on the grounds."

In this sentence 'Over' is in the position of the subject. Would it be possible that a subject with preposition comes together like this?

Thank you.

  • You should be able to answer this using a dictionary. over. Look for a similar example.
    – user3169
    Sep 27, 2017 at 2:10
  • It was helpful. I found a similar example there. Thanks a lot.
    – Top Coders
    Sep 27, 2017 at 2:31
  • The primary "subject" is people. Which you could think of as being "adjectivally" modified by over 500, as it would be with, say, Many people were buried here. Sep 27, 2017 at 18:04
  • Traditional grammars regard over as a preposition when it's followed by a noun phrase and an adverb when it is used on it's own. However, modern grammarians usually treat over as a prepositions whether or not it is followed by a noun phrase. Sep 30, 2017 at 15:19

1 Answer 1


Yes, over is a preposition here. It means more than a particular number. Cambridge has a very succinct explanation concerning this. They have also provided a few pertinent examples:

Over as a preposition

Over with numbers

Over means 'more than' a particular number or limit.

  • There were over 100 people at the lecture.

  • If your hand baggage weighs over 10 kilos, you must check it in.

  • She couldn't enter the competition. She was over the age limit.

There's nothing wrong with a preposition being in that position; 'over 500' is a prepositional phrase functioning as determiner in the noun phrase 'over 500 people'.

  • "Over 500 people" is not a PP, but an NP with "people" as head and the PP "over 500" as determiner.
    – BillJ
    Sep 27, 2017 at 7:13
  • I prefer to think of it as "people" being a post-modifier of the quantity "over 500".
    – TimR
    Sep 27, 2017 at 11:02
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo You mean 500 is the head? But it cannot stand alone. Sep 27, 2017 at 11:24
  • @user178049: The quantity can stand alone. Over 500 saw the spectacle that day. 500 saw the spectacle that day. 500 left the factory floor but were later recalled. But we don't know 500 of what unless the context informs us or an explicit noun is supplied. "Seven remained" is a grammatical utterance; you could open a short story with it.
    – TimR
    Sep 27, 2017 at 11:46
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo I would regard that a fused-head construction. Yes, in that case, you're right-it is the head (and also the dependent). But in this case, 'over 500 people', I would say it's just a normal noun phrase where people is head and over 500 is the dependent. Sep 27, 2017 at 11:49

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