You won't find a better offer than that. But take your time to consider it over a cup of coffee.

1. Is 'over' a particle or a preposition in the quotes above?

2. What does 'over' mean in the quotes above?

3. Can I say 'consider something over a cup of tea, a glass of wine/beer/orange..etc.'? Is this pattern common: [consider sth. over sth.]

4. Can 'consider something over' mean 'think something over'? And 'over' pretty much means 'again.' Note: in this usage, 'over' has no object.

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I see the problem. You think that maybe "consider over" is a phrasal verb like "think over". Short answer - no. "over' is a preposition in your example. As you suggest, we can consider things over tea, coffee, over a meal, and so on. It means "while having a cup of coffee", "during the time it takes to have a cup of coffee". We probably use "over" because we are physically above the food or beverages at the time.

It doesn't have to be "consider":

"Let's discuss this over a beer."
"Let's talk about it over lunch."
"I think we should be able to settle the matter over coffee and cake."

The phrasal verbs with "over" would not go well with this sort of expression because you'd have the awkward juxtaposition of two "over"s.

?They decided to talk it over over tea.
?I'll think it over over dinner.

Let's see -- I think I can answer some of your questions.

"Think something over" is a common phrase, which means essentially the same as "consider something." It does not imply "think something again," but rather, spend some time thinking about something, considering all aspects of the question. (Have you decided to take that new job? I don't know yet -- I'm still thinking it over.) You cannot say "consider something over" in the same way.

In your original example, the person is advised to consider the offer "over a cup of coffee." That is, take your time and consider the offer while drinking a cup of coffee. Yes, you could consider something (or think about something, or discuss something with another person) over a glass of wine, over a meal, over a game of chess, etc.. "Over" in this sense means "during, while partaking of or participating in."

You could also "consider somethingover the weekend, over the next few days, overnight," etc., in which case the "over" means "during." (Idiomatically, if you want to suggest that the person consider something overnight and decide the following day, you could say "you might want to sleep on it.")

The only other meaning I can think of for "consider something over" is in a completely different context: "Remember our friendship, that you have been abusing with your lies and deceit? Consider it over! (Consider the friendship terminated.)

Hope I've been of some help!
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Thank you so much, both CJ & Khoff.

CJ's explanation about 'over' was interesting. I think that the food or the drinks will eventually go inside our body.

Here, 'over' is a preposition and it follows the pattern: [OVER + NP] NP = nominal phrase

Will you be home over the summer vacation?
Over a period of ten years he stole a million pounds from the company.
Can we talk about this over dinner?

Does it imply there're a start and an end if 'over' means 'during'?

-------x----------y----------> t ; t = time domain

x = summer vacation starts, y = summer vacation ends
x = the beginning of ten year period, y = the end of ten year period
x = the dinner starts, y = the dinner ends
To me there seems to be a slight difference between the phrases that use "over" with something tangible like a meal, a cup of coffee, etc., and those that use "over" with a period of time, like summer vacation, a period of ten years, etc. In the first examples, I imagine the meal, cup of coffee, etc. sitting on the table, and the conversation, thought, discussion, etc. hovering in the air over (above) them. I think this is something like what CalifJim meant when he said that we are physically above the food or beverage.

I don't really understand your question about the beginning and end of the time period. Of course any time period has a beginning and an end, but I'm not sure this is "implied" by the use of "over." Or - maybe this is what you meant - if you asked me the difference between "over the summer vacation" and "during the summer vacation," I guess I would say that "during" could mean "for two weeks in the middle of the vacation," while "over" could mean that, but would more likely mean "from the beginning to the end. It is not a very strong implication - you really could use them interchangeably, but I think there is a slight preference for "over" to mean "during the whole of." Is that what you meant? Jim, do you agree with me?--khoff
Hi khoff,

Thanks for the reply.

1. If you look up a dictionary, you would find 'over' has lots of definitions.
One of the definitions for 'over' is 'above', but I'm afraid it is hardly related to our discussions about the use of 'over'.

over - above
e.g. (from dictionary)
A lamp hung over the table.
She leaned over the desk to answer the phone.
The sign over the door said 'Mind your head'.
We watched a helicopter flying low over the harbour.

2. Per dictionary, 'over' can mean something else such as 'during.'
Can 'over' and 'during' be used interchangeably in the following examples? Please explain, if you think they are not equivalent.

I'd consider the offer over a cup of coffee =? I'd consider the offer during a cup of coffee
Let's discuss this over a beer =? Let's discuss this during a beer
Let's talk about it over lunch =? Let's talk about it during lunch
I think we should be able to settle the matter over coffee and cake =? I think we should be able to settle the matter during coffee and cake
Will you be home over the summer vacation =? Will you be home during the summer vacation
Over a period of ten years he stole a million pounds from the company =? During a period of ten years he stole a million pounds from the company
Can we talk about this over dinner=? Can we talk about this during dinner

Note: '=?' means 'is the same as?'

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Okay, I have discussed this extensively with two other intelligent native speakers of American English (who happen to be my husband and daughter, the only ones willing to listen to this sort of thing at 11.00 p.m.) They are in agreement with me on the following points:

The use of "over" to mean "above" is definitely related to this discussion. Remember CalifJim's comment "we probably use 'over' because we are physically above the food or beverages at the time"? I stand by what I said in my previous post - "over" is the natural choice to describe discussing something "over" a physical object that is sitting on a table before you. (The examples your dictionary gives are more literal and this is a bit more metaphorical or idiomatic, but the sense of "above" is definitely present.)

"Over" can be used with either an object or a period of time, but "during" has to be used with a period of time or an event -- something with "duration." It can be a very loosly defined period of time or event, such as "lunch" or "dinner" -- maybe even "coffee and cake" if that described a social event (The speech will be followed by coffee and cake in the library). For this reason, I would say that in the examples you give, "over" can be replaced by "during" in all but the first two sentences. You can say either "over the summer" or "during the summer," but you cannot say "during a cup of coffee" or "during a beer" without it sounding strange. It would certianly be understood, but it would not sound quite natural.

(You could say "let's discuss this during tea" or "during coffee" if you meant "during teatime" or "during our coffee break" -- but once you say "a cup of..." you have turned the tea or coffee into a physical object rather than a social event. )

((One example just occurred to me that could go either way-- I would say you could discuss something either OVER a game of golf, or DURING a game of golf. Again, the game of golf is down there on the ground and the discussion is taking place above it. "During" also works here because the game of golf is a social event with a certain duration.))

Please note - when I speak of what sounds natural to me, I have a thoroughly American ear. Maybe in Britain people are always discussing things during a beer!

I'd love to see some other opinions on this.

All language is metaphor. The several meanings of "over" form happy coincidences in many of these expressions. Emotion: smile
Thank you so much, khoff. I love to see decent discussions.

I'd hope my questions didn't become your nightmare.

I've been thinking about this topic DURING this weekend. I can see your veiwpoint. Your reply has always been a great help.

Let me start OVER. See if I can dig into it more.

How do the following examples sound to you? Please put down your comments if there are anything worth noticing.

I'd conside the offer over a table.
Let's discuss this over a table.
I think we should be able to settle the matter over a table.
Can we talk about this over a table?
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