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I have heard the following used often

Over the course of the semester, ...

but a friend recently told me

Through the course of the semester, ...

Are both of these usages of the idiom acceptable? I feel like the second one is strange while the first one is acceptable.

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

The first is certainly acceptable. Although I've heard the second example used, in my opinion it's not correct. It may perhaps be most charitably read as "through[out] the course of the semester", which is fine.

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Agreed. 8 times as many links for the natural sounding #1 compared to the odd sounding #2. – dcaswell Aug 27 '13 at 3:55
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As this is an English Language & Usage site, please use standard English formatting & capitalisation for sentences: it makes answers much easier to read. – TrevorD Aug 27 '13 at 10:37
    
@TrevorD — fair enough. In an on-screen context I have a preference for the newly-emerging conventions, but perhaps this isn’t the place to be avant-garde. (I’d add an emoticon here, but somehow it seems as though it might come across as disingenuous!) – simon Aug 27 '13 at 11:15

I wonder if each of these phrases could potentially mean something different.

For example, if I say that I took five prescriptions over the course of a month, would that be the same as saying that I took five prescriptions through the course of a month? Use of the word through seems to suggest that all prescriptions were taken until the end of the month. Use of the word over does not seem to suggest this.

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This does not really answer the question. If you have a different question, you can ask it by clicking Ask Question. You can also add a bounty to draw more attention to this question once you have enough reputation. - From Review – Hellion Mar 30 at 20:21
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I think this response is intended as an answer, but the interrogative and tentative wording makes it seem closer to a question. You can strengthen it by making a clearer argument in support of the notion that "prescriptions through the course of a month" and "prescriptions over the course of a month" have different meanings—preferably with corroboration from a third-party authority such as a reference book. – Sven Yargs Mar 30 at 21:31
    
If you have a new question, please ask it by clicking the Ask Question button. Include a link to this question if it helps provide context. - From Review – jimm101 Mar 31 at 0:26

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