"fall over a cliff" is possible?

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Tokyoite

Member
Japanese
Hello everyone,

I'm not a native English speaker and when I was a highschool student back in 1980's
my English teacher taught me saying, "fall from a cliff" is false and "fall over a cliff" is correct.
Now, I understand "fall off a cliff" is standard and "fall from a cliff" is incorrect.
And my question is, are there any circumsatnces where you can use "fall over a cliff"?
Or, "fall over a cliff" is totally wrong and unacceptible?

TIA
 
  • Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    Perhaps this Google Ngrams chart, showing the relative frequency of these phrases in published works over time, will help you evaluate the issue. Personally, I would say "fall off a cliff," but I don't consider either of the other two possibilities incorrect.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Hello everyone,
    Hello, Tokyoite.
    I'm not a native English speaker and when I was a highschool student back in 1980's
    my English teacher taught me saying, "fall from a cliff" is false and "fall over a cliff" is correct.
    I agree with that teacher that "He fell over a cliff" is common. However, I don't think "He fell from a cliff" is "false" or impossible. Speakers don't always use prepositions with great precision, and "from" is certainly possible. If he were hanging from a bush that grew out of a cliff's face when he fell, then "He fell from a cliff" is better than "He fell over a cliff."
    Now, I understand "fall off a cliff" is standard and "fall from a cliff" is incorrect.
    "He fell off a cliff" is certainly possible. It is probably more common than "He fell from a cliff."
    And my question is, are there any circumsatnces where you can use "fall over a cliff"?
    Or, "fall over a cliff" is totally wrong and unacceptible?
    By now, Tokyoite, you may have picked up the idea that I don't regard variations in prepositions in this phrase as "wrong" or "unacceptable". If I wanted to say that he didn't see the edge of the cliff as he was walking and then fell off the cliff, I would probably use "off" or "over". If I used "over", I might include the word "edge": He fell off the cliff. He fell over the cliff's edge.
     
    Hi and welcome to the forum.

    Can you clarify a bit? Your teacher said, and you accepted that "fall from [a cliff]" is incorrect and "fall over" is correct. Yes?

    Your question asks, "Are there any circumstances where you can use "fall over a cliff"?

    Well, that's what you were taught and understood, and it's a pretty good, if not iron-clad guideline. Why are you asking?

    Or, did you mean to ask about "fall from" a cliff? This is a bit odd, conceptually, but heard in informal talk.

    If you explain, we can better help you.



    Hello everyone,

    I'm not a native English speaker and when I was a highschool student back in 1980's
    my English teacher taught me saying, "fall from a cliff" is false and "fall over a cliff" is correct.
    Now, I understand "fall off a cliff" is standard and "fall from a cliff" is incorrect.
    And my question is, are there any circumsatnces where you can use "fall over a cliff"?
    Or, "fall over a cliff" is totally wrong and unacceptible?

    TIA
    [cross posted with Glen and Owl]
     
    Last edited:

    Tokyoite

    Member
    Japanese
    Hello, Tokyoite.
    I agree with that teacher that "He fell over a cliff" is common. However, I don't think "He fell from a cliff" is "false" or impossible. Speakers don't always use prepositions with great precision, and "from" is certainly possible. If he were hanging from a bush that grew out of a cliff's face when he fell, then "He fell from a cliff" is better than "He fell over a cliff."
    "He fell off a cliff" is certainly possible. It is probably more common than "He fell from a cliff."
    By now, Tokyoite, you may have picked up the idea that I don't regard variations in prepositions in this phrase as "wrong" or "unacceptable". If I wanted to say that he didn't see the edge of the cliff as he was walking and then fell off the cliff, I would probably use "off" or "over". If I used "over", I might include the word "edge": He fell off the cliff. He fell over the cliff's edge.
    Thanls a lot!
     

    Tokyoite

    Member
    Japanese
    Hi and welcome to the forum.

    Can you clarify a bit? Your teacher said, and you accepted that "fall from [a cliff]" is incorrect and "fall over" is correct. Yes?

    Your question asks, "Are there any circumstances where you can use "fall over a cliff"?

    Well, that's what you were taught and understood, and it's a pretty good, if not iron-clad guideline. Why are you asking?

    Or, did you mean to ask about "fall from" a cliff? This is a bit odd, conceptually, but heard in informal talk.

    If you explain, we can better help you.





    [cross posted with Glen and Owl]
    As you pointed out, my question seemed unclear. I meant to explain that I was taught "fall over a cliff" was correct but several years ago an American friend told me that "fall over a cliff" was strange and I should say "fall off a cliff". So I've been wondering.
    The owlman5's explanation was clear to me. What do you think? Would you please reply if you have somehing to add?
     
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