I'm not a native english speaker. In our language we have no preposition so it is very difficult for us to understand it.
for example we discuss 'pull over' all day long. we know what 'pull over' means but anyone doesn't know what 'over' means in this idiom.

meaning in dictionary: To bring a vehicle to a stop at a curb or at the side of a road: He pulled over and jumped out of the car.

What does 'over' mean in this idiom 'pull over?'

  • 1
    It's the same "over" as in "come over here." It's short for "pull over [to the side [of the road]]"
    – Jim
    Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 4:18
  • 3
    Try to learn and remember idioms as they are. A literal meaning of an idiom, at times, is confusing and misleading. If you learn the meaning of over here and set your mind on it, in other idiom, it'll entirely mean different!
    – Maulik V
    Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 5:30

2 Answers 2


Probably the best way to think of it in this case is to "pull" the car (really meaning drive it) over to the side of the road and stop. Of course, idioms aren't always easy to explain, and to some extent they just have to be learned by rote. I can tell you that any language that I'm familiar with (French and German in my case) uses prepositions differently than they are used in English, and we preposition-users have to learn them by rote as well.

A well-known example is the French "à", which usually means "at", as in "je suis à la maison" for "I am at home" (literally, "I am at the house"). However, French also has "canard à l'orange" meaning literally "duck with orange". (We call it "duck à l'orange", a tip of the hat to the French origin of the dish.) For another example, the German for "I am at home" is "Ich bin zu hause", which is literally "I am to house"!

I give you this example so you will understand that it isn't just because your language doesn't have prepositions that they are hard to learn! Their use is idiomatic in many cases in other languages, too. We all have to study them one at a time when learning a different language.


When someone driving a car is asked to 'pull over', the speaker is using shorthand in language. The speaker is actualy instructing the driver to slow the car and come to a stop, and to ensure the stopped car is alongside the road in a 'hopefully' safe place. Rather a mouthfull, so shorthand language is used and in most cases, the speaker and the listener understand the shorthand.

Confusion can arise when the communication is broken due to the listener failing to understand the shorthand message being given to them.

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