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This is from a british tv show, where 3 students from state and private schools swap schools for a short time. School swap (see:10:25-10:32)

They should get up, get showered, and get over to the dining room for breakfast at 7:30.

"...get over to..." drew my attention. I wonder why they don't simply say "..get to the dining room" and instead add an "over" and say "..get over to the dining room"?

Is it because the dining room is away or is on the other side of the building or is located in a separate long distance part within the school?

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    Perhaps it's to accentuate that this "get", unlike the previous two, implies movement. Commented Aug 16, 2023 at 15:25
  • get yourself on over there implies that you're late and you need to arrive discreetly.
    – Mazura
    Commented Aug 16, 2023 at 20:24
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    @Mazura: I don't think the "get over to the dining room" here carries any implication of arriving discreetly.
    – psmears
    Commented Aug 17, 2023 at 16:11
  • WordWeb says [over] means [At or to a point across intervening space etc.] & then it gives these Examples ["come over and see us some time"; "over there"] : Hence , your Case might be because of the "Distance" between the Accommodation & the Dining room !
    – Prem
    Commented Aug 17, 2023 at 19:04
  • Way back when, when I was a student, I lived in the men's residence building. The dining area was in the women's residence. If my girlfriend woke up late, her roommate might have said something like "You need to get to the dining room now if you want breakfast before your first class". My roommate might have said "you need to get over to the dining room, etc." The over implies that it's not that close by, possibly in another building.
    – Flydog57
    Commented Aug 17, 2023 at 22:55

8 Answers 8

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Indeed, why don't they say "go to the dining room"? There's no requirement that "over" must be used in this situation.

You are probably right, "Get over to the dining room" would suggest to me that the dining room was "over there" from the place where they were sleeping.

But you're watching the show, so you probably know more about where they are sleeping and where the dining room is.

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Generally speaking, over in that sort of command (get over to the dining room) indicates that the speaker feels that the person who needs to move to the dining room must cross some amount of space to get there. It could be a bit of lawn between two buildings, say, or or it could be the width of the entire campus, or it might be only the width of a corridor if they're in the same building and right across the hall from the dining room in another room.

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The video is about students at Warminster School, which is a 300 year old private boarding school in England, and many older educational establishments in the UK are located in very old/historic buildings, which may have been added to over the years.

It's quite possible that the student accommodation is in an entirely separate building from the dinning room*, and that's probably why the guy said "over to the dining room", because it is located some distance away from the student accommodation, and because the word "over" can be used to mean "across to the other side" of a location, e.g. "over there", "over the road".

*Note: This isn't just a feature of private schools in the UK. I went to a state secondary school, there were four separate buildings within the school campus, and it wasn't even particularly old. I think it was built in the 1950's originally, but additions were made over the years as the size of the town increased.

It's also relatively rare in the UK for old buildings to be demolished and rebuilt, especially if they have historical significance. It was fairly common to just build onto existing structures, or add additional buildings. Many of these historical buildings may even be what we call "listed buildings", or perhaps even located in conservation areas where local authorities strongly discourage new building projects or extensive alterations to existing buildings.

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    How does this explain the addition of the word "over"?
    – Barmar
    Commented Aug 16, 2023 at 14:36
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    @Barmar "over" as in walking over to another building, which is close by, on the same campus.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Aug 16, 2023 at 17:30
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    But what does the age of the buildings have to do with it?
    – Barmar
    Commented Aug 16, 2023 at 18:01
  • @BillyKerr I think this answer could be improved my making it more explicit thatthe word "over" indicates distance, in the body of the answer. As it is presently, it seems to be an answer about historical layouts of British schools-- what that has to do with "over" in terms of language is not obvious, esp. to a non-native speaker
    – user151841
    Commented Aug 18, 2023 at 18:11
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    @user151841 - OK, have done so now.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Aug 18, 2023 at 19:47
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In American English I think the phrase “get over to” can indicate urgency. As in, “I’m late! I gotta get over to the engineering building for class.”

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    I think it's "I'm late!" that expresses the urgency, "get over" doesn't do it.
    – Barmar
    Commented Aug 16, 2023 at 18:02
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    @Barmar: "Get over to the dining room" delivered as a text message (no punctuation, no emojis, just bland text) would indicate some urgency. It's definitely not "whenever you get the chance". Commented Aug 16, 2023 at 18:07
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    Not, to me, @Tim. "Get to the dining room" expresses about the same amount of urgency to me as "Get over to the dining room". That's carried by the imperative "get to", and is indeed more than if "go to" were used. What the "over" adds is a sense that a non-negligible distance must be traveled in the process. Commented Aug 17, 2023 at 12:04
  • So, yes, "get over to" does indicate urgency, but that does not distinguish it from "get to". Commented Aug 17, 2023 at 12:06
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    @JohnBollinger Maybe. If you called a plumbing company about a leak dripping water through your ceiling, which would you prefer to hear? "One of our plumbers will get to your house" or "One of our plumbers will get over to your house". over for me has some nuance of alacrity. Commented Aug 17, 2023 at 12:18
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The word "over" is unnecessary.

It could be there because there is something that needs to be crossed (or "got over") in order to move from one place to the other (for example, a courtyard);

It could be there for metrical purposes, to improve the rhythm of the phrase. There's a rising crescendo here, "get X, get Y, and get Z" with each phrase increasing in length and perhaps in amplitude, and "over" could emphasize this.

Or could be there to contrast this "get" with the previous two, stressing that this one involves physical movement. It has a very different meaning from the previous two "get's", and the auxiliary "over" differentiates it.

I think the interesting thing about this phrase is not "over", but "get". Personally I wouldn't say "get to the dining room". I would say "go to the dining room". The use of "get" here has to be seen as deliberate repetition, chosen for effect.

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    Well saying that a word is unnecessary may not be so much linguistically informed. It adds to the pragmatics of the utterance depending on the context as you actually indicate, as well as it can anchor (vocal) intonation and participate in prosodic cues of meaning.
    – matanox
    Commented Aug 17, 2023 at 12:11
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In the context of narrative fiction, including television dramas and movies, if someone is told to "go to the dining room", that would suggest that the person's trip there will be--from a narrative point of view--instant. If nothing more will happen in the present room, action would likely shift immediately to the person's arrival in the dining room; if focus remains on the current room for an additional 30 seconds, then action might shift either to the other person's arrival in the dining room, or to a dining room where the person has already arrived but probably not done too much.

If someone is told to "go over to the dining room", that would suggest a narrative acknowledgment that travel isn't instantaneous, and either focus will remain in the current room for substantial length of time, will shift to the other person's trip to the dining room, or will shift somewhere else entirely for awhile.

Note that the characters in dramatic fiction have a notion of time which melds what characters would perceive in the "real" universe with the perceptions of of the audience, and characters will often use language related to time in ways that differ from real-world usage. In a dramatic context, the use of "over to the dining room" versus "to the dining room" would be strongly influenced by whether anything of interest to the audience is going to happen before the character reaches the dining room. Such a notion would not exist in a situation where one real-world person was asking another real-world person to go to a real-world dining room.

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As a native speaker of American English, I would argue that "over" here is acting as a Spatial Deixis:

Spatial deixis, or place deixis, concerns itself with the spatial locations relevant to an utterance. ... [T]he locations may be either those of the speaker and addressee or those of persons or objects being referred to. The most salient English examples are the adverbs here and there... although those are far from exclusive.

So "here" and "there" are well-known spatial deixes in English. To simplify, If something is close, it is "here", and if it's further away, it's "there". However, less well-recognized are the compound deixes, such as "over there". So if something is far away, further than "there", it can be said to be "over there".

Let's look at Spanish spatial deixes, and compare them to English:

In English, you have two distances: here and there. In Spanish we have three: here, there and over there.

Here: Aquí, Acá

There: Ahí

Over there: Allí, Allá

Translators use "over there" where Spanish uses "allí" "allá", which means it functions as a spatial deixis.

So, to answer the question at hand: "Get over to the dining room" means, to my ear, that the dining room is not "here"-- not close-- nor "there"-- not the next room over-- but "over there"-- that to get to the dining room, you would have to traverse some distance.

Here is a way you can test my interpretation, at least in the example referenced from School Swap: When the students are admonished to go from their dorm room to the dining hall, is the dining hall nearby? Or do they have to go through several rooms, perhaps down a hallway or staircase, or even to another building? If the latter, then the dining room is "over there", so they must "get over" to it.


Side note:

English had a third single-word spatial deixes, "yonder", which you can find in Shakespeare:

But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?

It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.

-- Romeo, Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, Scene 2

And also in some regional dialects of English: https://www.theneweuropean.co.uk/having-a-ponder-over-yonder/

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In this context, "over" acts as a mild intensifier. You could leave it out and still have a correct English sentence.

But if I were told, "you better get over there", I would take it to mean either the time available is relatively short or the distance is relatively long. In either case, the implication is that the listener should "get a move on."

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