Common mistake overnight instead of 'over night'

Common Mistake: 'Overnight' instead of 'Over night'

One common mistake in English usage is the confusion between the word 'overnight' and the two-word phrase 'over night'. While they may sound similar, these expressions have different meanings and usage.

1. Overnight as an Adverb

The term 'overnight' is primarily used as an adverb to describe something that happens or is done during the night or is completed by the next morning.

Example: I left the dough to rise overnight, and it was ready to bake in the morning.

2. Over night as a Prepositional Phrase

On the other hand, 'over night' is a prepositional phrase that consists of the preposition 'over' and the noun 'night', and it typically refers to a motion or action that occurs across or during the course of one or more nights.

Example: They sailed over night to reach the neighboring island.

In this example, 'over night' indicates the duration of the voyage – the action of sailing across the night(s) until they reached the destination.

It is important to note that 'overnight' and 'over night' cannot always be used interchangeably. The choice between the two depends on the intended meaning of the sentence.

For example, saying "She completed the project over night" indicates that she finished it during the course of one or more nights. On the other hand, saying "She completed the project overnight" implies that she finished it by the following morning.

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overnight instead of 'over night' mistake examples

  • Incorrect:
    She stayed over night.

    She stayed overnight.

  • Incorrect:
    The stock has gone down over night.

    The stock has gone down overnight.

  • Incorrect:
    He over nighted at my house.

    He overnighted at my house.

  • Correct:
    Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  • Correct:
    I prefer day over night.
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