A line from the film Michael Clayton:

Barry's taking over on U/North. We got a lot of grovelling to do.

Barry is an associate at a law firm, and U/North is a case/client. I would expect take over a case/client. Google Books show a limited number of instances of take over on, most results false positives. Is "take over on" idiomatic/commonly said? Is on here a preposition or part of the whole phrasal verb?

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    I understand it as intransitive take over, plus on = about, concerning. But I had to think about it: I don't think it is idiomatic. – Colin Fine Jul 2 '18 at 18:18
  • This does strike me as weird, but keep in mind movies aren't (and shouldn't be) written to be 100% idiomatic, or the actor flubbed her line but they liked the take anyway. – Azor Ahai Jul 2 '18 at 22:16
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    As a native speaker, it doesn't seem odd at all, but it's very clearly (take over) (on some topic). – chrylis -cautiouslyoptimistic- Jul 3 '18 at 4:57

You need to consider 'take over' and 'on' separately. The phrasal verb 'take over' has its normal meaning, and (I suspect) the preposition 'on' here is used idiomatically/conversationally to denote assignment to a task or role, and, as you suggest, might be omitted in more formal speech. Consider a random example I just made up: I am head chef in a restaurant kitchen. I have two chefs under me, Pete who is 'on' fish, and Mary, who is 'on' desserts (I put them 'on' these jobs). If I need Mary to do something, I might say 'Mary, please go to the store and get some peppercorns. I'll take over on desserts'.

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The preposition on is also used with the accounts/customers of a business, such as a PR firm or a law firm:

Who should we put as lead on the Acme Widgets account?

And the account/customer can be referred to by name:

Who should we put as lead on Acme Widgets?
-- Let's put Jim on that account.
We can't. Jim's taking over on Spacely Sprockets.

That is, Jim is replacing the current account lead on the Spacely Sprockets account.

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