fight for/over

quietdandelion

Banned
Formosa/Chinese
The two dogs are fighting over/for a slice of meat.
Living in this competitive society, everybody has to fight over/for survival.


It's really bewildering for us whether to use fight over or for. Are they interchangeable? If not, how do I know when to use one instead of the other?
 
  • Blumengarten

    Senior Member
    America / English
    Hi Dandelion,

    The phrase "fight for survival" is rather common, and dogs fight over a piece of meat.

    I think that, if it is a physical object, you would "fight over" it, and if it's intangible, you would "fight for" it.

    But I can already think of exceptions to that rule! Parents might fight over their children ... which means they would fight about them, and they could fight for them, such as if they had to stand up for them against their school teacher who wanted to fail them ... this probably makes everything as clear as mud!
     

    EkatS

    Member
    United States/English
    They are not really interchangeable:
    Fighting for: they are both struggling to get a slice of meat, not necessarily in competition with each other. They could be fighting against a third party.
    Fighting over: they are in competition with each other. The winner gets the meat.
     

    quietdandelion

    Banned
    Formosa/Chinese
    Thanks, my friends.
    It's crytal clear now.
    The samples cited by Blumengarten can best demonstrate the differences between "fight for" and "fight over:" Parents might fight each other over their children. Parents might fight other people for their children.
     

    WongFeiHung

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Unless in some bizarre context where some twisted kids gain entertainment watching their parents fight, then it'd be "Parents fight each other for their children" -- hopefully that's not used often... ;)
     

    quietdandelion

    Banned
    Formosa/Chinese
    Unless in some bizarre context where some twisted kids gain entertainment watching their parents fight, then it'd be "Parents fight each other for their children" -- hopefully that's not used often... ;)
    Yes, it's posssible. Besides, parents could also fight each other for the custody of their children.
     
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