Fall Down / Fall over.

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cheshire

Senior Member
Japanese
(1) I fell down.
(2) I fell over.
When you've stumbled on something, which would you be doing? What's the difference?

I read there's a difference of usage with "fall over," which can be used for both animate and inanimate objects in BrE, while only inanimates in AmE. Is it true?
 
  • Old Novice

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    I make no claim to a definitive answer, but to me, "I fell down" means I hit the ground in a fall. I'd only say "I fell over" if I fell over [something big]. "I fell over [a cliff], but somehow survived." If I fell over [something small], I would say "I tripped over [the log]". In fact, if I hit the ground in that case, I'd say "I tripped over the log and fell down." Either way, for a person, use of "over" requires identification of the [something] involved, to my ear.

    I have no problem with "The statue fell over", however. This suggests your source suggesting that "fall over" is used only with inanimate objects in AE may well be true.
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    I'm with Old Novice on this one. To me, "fell over" means that something "toppled over". Accordingly, for me to "fall over", I would need to be standing in one spot with both feet firmly planted and simply fall prone. Not likely would this happen so I can't see using the expression in the case of people or animals.

    If I "fall over" the edge of a cliff/sidewalk curb, etc., it means I've fallen off of it but if I trip and the forces of gravity get the better of me, I've "fallen down".

    On the other hand, if I spill a glass of milk on the kitchen counter, the glass has "fallen over".
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    If you fall down, you fall in a heap. If you fall over you pass out, and tend to hit the ground still stretched-out-- still in a standing position, so to speak. Falling over is also called keeling over, and it's common to say "right over" with both words.

    If you're given to taunting, and win a fight with one punch, you might say to your opponent, "You're no fun, you fell right over!"

    With qualifiers like "almost" and "just about," the phrase takes on the figurative meaning of being stunned, greatly surprised. "When I heard you'd passed the bar I just about keeled over!"

    In none of these expressions would you say "fell down." That implies an awkward and accidental fall, where as people who fall over don't usually fall down, they are knocked down.
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    ADMP

    Senior Member
    Sinhaleese - Sri Lanka
    <Merged with an earlier thread>

    Can somebody please explain me the difference between fall ove & fall down and which context can we use it?

    1. She tripped on the carpet & fell down/over
     
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    sloopjc

    Senior Member
    UK English
    You can fall over something or someone, but fall down by yourself. There are different examples..
     

    ADMP

    Senior Member
    Sinhaleese - Sri Lanka
    You can fall over something or someone, but fall down by yourself. There are different examples..
    What do you mean by "fall down by yourself" Did you mean that we can refer it to another person?

    She tripped & fell down ????
     

    sloopjc

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Hi ADMP,

    You can say she tripped and fell down, or she tripped and fell over the coffee table. I said you can fall down by yourself, to explain how it is not a requirement that an object or person causes the fall. i.e. she fell down the stairs.

    If the carpet in your earlier example was to blame, then I would say, "She tripped on the carpet and fell over".

    In all probability, I'd most likely just say: "She tripped on the carpet and fell." since the cause of the fall, though significant, is not as obtrusive as a coffee table.
     

    ortak

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    <Merged with an earlier thread>

    Hello all,

    What is the exact difference between 'fall over' and 'fall down'.

    Here are some examples from Oxford Advanced Dictionary :

    I fell over and cut my knee. ( I fell over something like glass :confused: or just simply fell over / on the ground )

    The house looked as if it was about to fall down. ( fall to a down position)

    Thanks in advance.
     
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    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Moderator note: three threads have been merged.

    Please read the earlier comments about manner of falling (stretched out or in a heap) and whether any object is involved.
     

    hectacon

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    This discussion has been added to a previous thread. Cagey, moderator.

    What is the difference between Fall Down and Fall over.

    Can I say ,

    He slipped and Fell down on his back on the floor backwards.
    He slipped and Fell over on his back backwards.

    He stumbled on his shoe lace and fell down on the floor.

    He stumbled on his shoe lace and fell over on the floor.

    < New question will need its own thread. Cagey, moderator. >


    Today My intent is to make someone fall :mad: but in a correct way :rolleyes:
     
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    LaVache

    Senior Member
    English- American
    The one below sounds wrong.

    He stumbled on his shoe lace and fell over on the floor.
     

    hectacon

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    That means, I should say like this, right

    He slipped and Fell down on his back on the floor backwards

    He slipped and Fell over on his back backwards.

    He stumbled on his shoe lace and fell down on the floor.

    He stumbled on his shoe lace and fell over the box on the floor.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    These are better, but you don't need 'backwards' if you say that he fell on his back. Or, you can say he fell backwards, without saying that he fell on his back.

    He slipped and fell down on his back on the floor.
    He slipped and fell over on his back.
    [I would say: "fell over onto his back"]
    He slipped and fell down on the floor backwards
    He slipped and fell over backwards.
    This one is good.
    He stumbled on his shoe lace and fell over the box onto the floor.
    [Once more, I would say 'onto'. I am not certain that everyone else will agree with me.]
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I like most of Cagey's re-writes. They are much more natural-sounding to me.

    I'm not quite sure how he could fall over on his back from a slip. To me, fall over is a forward-pitching motion.

    He stumbled on his shoe lace and fell over the box onto the floor.
    I think onto is important here. "The box on the floor" sounds like a description of the box (unless that's what you intended).
     
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    hectacon

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    I like most of Cagey's re-writes. They are much more natural-sounding to me.


    I think onto is important here. "The box on the floor" sounds like a description of the box (unless that's what you intended).
    why onto? I meant the box was lying on the floor . He fell over the box which was there sitting on the floor. right? Confusing.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    "Onto" tells us where landed. Well, he could have fallen over the box onto a chair or a table or a potted plant, for example. "...fell over a box on the floor" is redundant. It would be very hard to fall over a box on a shelf. :)
     

    ain'ttranslationfun?

    Senior Member
    US English
    I (AE speaker) wouldn't say "(Someone) fell over." by itself but I've heard BE speakers say this; I'd say "He fell down."
    I think "fall down" needn't necessarily mean "fall forward", but we can specify "He fell forwards/sideways/backwards."
    I'd say "to fall down" = "to collapse", of a building for instance (ortak's post above); for a stack of things, "to topple over".
    I'd also say "He fell to the floor/...to the ground." if he were walking along it, and "He fell onto something." from somewhere higher, and to "fall from/off" e.g. a cliff.
    By the way, I'd say "He tripped over his shoelace and fell down." or ...fell on the floor."
    (Way back to cheshire's first post in the combined threads, I'd say" to stumble over"; for me "to stumble on" means "to find accidentally". But let's not fall into listing idiomatic expressions with "fall + preposition" here...)
     
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