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Look over

Posted by R. Berg on May 26, 2003

In Reply to: Look over posted by Henry on May 26, 2003

: : Here are two sentences, which include the phrase "look over". I wonder if the word "over" is a preposition or an adverb. Would you give me a hand?

: : 1. Look it over carefully so that you may identify it.

: : 2. Will you sort of look over it, sir, if you think it's worth while?

: : Can the phrase "look over" be used both ways?

: : Thank you very much.

: : mm169

: They both use the same phrasal verb (verb plus preposition)'look over'. This is clearer if you delete 'sort of'. 'Look it over' is in the imperative mood. If you said, "Give it a look over", 'look over' would then be a compound noun.

A remark on the placement of the object, "it": It is idiomatic (natural-sounding) in English to say "Please look this manuscript over and tell me of any errors." You can say "Please look over this manuscript and tell me . . . ." Both wordings are correct because "manuscript" is a noun. The object of "look over" can be a pronoun: you can say "Please look it over." When the word for the thing to be looked over is a pronoun, it goes between "look" and "over." That is, we don't say "look over it." We say "look it over."