Under or over: which and when to use?

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Under or over? To answer this question, it is necessary to understand the meaning of these two terms. "Under" is the same as "under" and "over" is synonymous with "on top of". But these two prepositions are also used to express other ideas. Thus, “under” is synonymous with “protected by”, for example, while “about” can mean “about”, among other meanings.

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Summary about under or about

  • The terms “under” and “over” are antonyms, as they have opposite meanings: “under” and “up”.
  • "under" is synonym of “under”, “protected by”, “submitted to” and “by effect of”.
  • "Over" is synonymous with "over", "about", "along" and "towards".
  • “Under” can also indicate the “mode” in which something happens.
  • “About” can also indicate cause, superiority, or preference.

What is the difference between under and about?

The term “under” is a preposition that generally indicates a position below something. Example:

the key is under the flower pot.

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The word “about” is also a preposition. However, its meaning is opposite to that of “under”, since it indicates a position above something. Example:

The flower pot is about the key.

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when to use under?

The preposition “under” is used in the following senses:

  • "below"

the armadillo lives under the land?

  • “protected by”

the puppy was under mother's wings.

  • “in the time of”

the story happened under the reign of D. Peter II.

  • “subordinate to”

Acted under the judge's orders.

  • "thanks for"

The defendant lied, despite being under oath.

  • “in state of”

were taken out of the room under strong emotion.

  • “in process of”

Changes in government are under analysis.

In addition, “under” can also be used to indicate:

  • a way

my pants were made under measure.

  • an effect

they acted under alcohol influence.

See too:In the end or in the end — what's the difference?

when to use about?

The preposition “about” is used in the following senses:

  • "upon"

the book was about the table.

  • "along"

Strange particles floated about the surface of the pool.

  • "about"

Hector spoke about the environmental crisis.

  • "toward"

The boy pointed about the snowy field.

  • "about"

Had about 60 years old when he won the lottery.

  • "corresponding to"

I received commission about the selling price of the car.

“About” can also indicate:

  • cause

They charged fee about the use of a debit card.

  • relationship between parts of a whole

The image was four meters wide. about three meters high.

  • superiority

The despot has power about all those who are afraid.

  • preference

I choose you about all others.

  • responsibility

received the task about yes.

  • repetition

When Ivone passed away, we found out she was in debt. about debts.

Common questions related to the use of under or over

There are many doubts regarding the use of these two prepositions. We will see some of them below.

→ Is speaking or writing “under” wrong?

It is not wrong. There are those who think that there is only the word “about”, so that the use of “under” would be a mistake made by some speakers of Portuguese. But there are two terms: "under" and "over".

→ Are “under” and “about” synonymous words?

No, these words do not have the same meaning, but opposite meanings. Therefore, they are antonyms.

→ “Under” means “above” or “below”?

“Under” indicates that something is under something. And “about” above.

→ Is the expression “talk about” correct?

Yes, because “about”, in addition to meaning “above”, can also have the meaning of “about”.

→ Is “under pressure” or “under pressure” correct?

In this case, “under” means “submitted to”. The appropriate thing, therefore, is to say and write “under pressure”. Furthermore, this expression indicates a mode:

Glauce was under pressure at work.

→ Is “under control” or “under control” correct?

As in the previous example, “under” means “submitted to”, and the correct expression, that is, “under control”, also indicates a mode:

Don't worry, everything is under control.

→ Is “under new management” or “under new management” correct?

We should say and write “under new management”, as this expression indicates that a certain establishment is subject to the command of someone:

the bar is now under new direction.

→ Is “under the table” or “on the table” correct?

Depends on the meaning you want to give a phrase. So, if you want to say that something is under the table, you must say or write “under the table”:

the dog is under the table.

But if you want to inform that the dog is on the table, the correct thing is:

the dog is on the table.

Read too: Bring or back — which one to use?

Synonyms for under and over



under, under, under, under, under, under.

over, on top of, about, in relation to, as to, above, by, on the surface of, towards, after, because of.

Exercises solved on under or about

question 1

Analyze the statements below and mark the alternative in which the use of “under” or “about” is incorrect.

A) For a long time, we talked under a starry sky and didn't see the hours pass.

B) He was under a mountain and saw the world from above as if he were a Greek god.

C) The people hardened under the command of a selfish, ruthless and criminal queen.

D) We couldn't even talk about freedom, since we lived in a totalitarian regime.

E) The concert was conducted by the best-known conductor in our country.


Alternative B

The word "under" means "under". Therefore, in this case, the correct one is “on a mountain”, since someone saw the world “from up there”.

question 2

Read this excerpt from the short story “Little Monster”, from the book Dragons don't know paradise, by Caio Fernando Abreu:

I frowned, Mom didn't even call. He said that he would come and that was it, that he had studied a lot all year, passed the entrance exam, I don't know what and needed to rest and such. and everything and that she owed that obligation to Aunt Dulcinha, the poor thing, and that besides, Alex was a good guy, so hard working. poor. That I hated more than anything: those good guys, so hardworking and bespectacled, always going out with canvas bags at night. lunch to buy beers and cokes and cigarettes for everyone, helping to wash dishes and playing those very boring canastas about the green blanket at the end of the table. I pushed the Argentine peach compote, the syrup turned on the towel, I cocked my trunk. That was my way of saying it: I don't even need to see his face to be sure he's a hoot.

Half asleep later that same night that Ma said Cousin Alex was coming, I tried to remember his face and couldn't. In fact, I couldn't remember anyone's face since a couple of years ago, since I'd started to get a little monster and the relatives nudged each other when I passed, they giggled, said things quietly, glancing at the me. I was terrified of them, who thought they knew everything about me. They knew nothing, they knew shit about my enormous hatred for each one of them, those big bellies, those sweaty breasts, feet full of calluses. I would never be like them—little monster, I would always be different from everyone else. That's exactly how I was going to behave with Cousin Alex, I decided: little monster more and more monster, until he couldn't take another minute and left for good. I stared hard at the bare mattress on the bed next to where he was going to sleep, until I filled the mattress with all my hate, so that he would feel bad and leave the same day.


The first and second occurrences of the preposition “about”, marked in the text, can be replaced, respectively, by:

A) over, over.

B) along, towards.

C) above, below.

D) along, above.

E) under, about.


Alternative A

in the text of Caio Fernando Abreu, the expression “on the blanket” can be replaced by “on top of the blanket”. “About me” is the same as “about me”.

By Warley Souza
Grammar teacher

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