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Across as adverb cited from OALD:

1 from one side to the other side

It's too wide. We can't swim across.

The yard measures about 50 feet across.

2 in a particular direction towards or at somebody/something

When my name was called, he looked across at me.

3 across from opposite

There's a school just across from our house.

I'm trying to rewrite them into:

It's too wide. We can't swim over.

The yard measures about 50 feet over.

When my name was called, he looked (over / away) at me.

There's a school just over our house.

Are these adapted sentences idiomatic? Any nuances between them and the original ones?

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1 Answer 1

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It's too wide. We can't swim over.

That's sounds fine to me but as noted in the comments some people would prefer to see it written more explicitly as We can't swim over there where there means the other side of it.


The yard measures about 50 feet over.

That is OK but sounds very old fashioned.


When my name was called, he looked over at me.

That's fine for over but you'd need to use looked away from me for away.


There's a school just over from our house.

Also fine as long as you remember to retain the from from the original.

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  • Can I say "look away at somebody", meaning I change my line of view to look at somebody else?
    – Kinzle B
    Sep 23, 2014 at 16:16
  • @KinzleB Yes, you can. It's quite correct to say "He looked away at someone else" but it doesn't have the same meaning as "He looked across/over at me" - now he's not looking at you.
    – Frank
    Sep 23, 2014 at 16:26
  • Maybe it's just me, but I'm not so fond of "It's too wide; we can't swim over." It's not wrong per se, but I can think of other ways to say it I'd like better, such as: It's too wide; we can't swim over there, or, It's too wide; we can't swim that far.
    – J.R.
    Sep 23, 2014 at 19:31
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    @Frank - Lots of ideas aren't in original posts because O.P.s don't know enough English to add them. I think a few extra possibilities are often very helpful for the learner.
    – J.R.
    Sep 24, 2014 at 7:46
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    @Frank - Just a note of clarification: the reason I don't like the bare over is because I think across is the better preposition to use when we are talking about the width of something and being able to swim that distance. If the sentence read, "It's too high; we can't jump over," then over by itself would be fine; in the case of the river, I prefer, "It's too wide, we can't swim across." However, in the case of, "It's too wide, we can't swim over there," the word over functions as an adverb, not a preposition.
    – J.R.
    Sep 24, 2014 at 9:31

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