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I would need to clarify which one is correct. My dictionary says “run somebody over” (meaning hit by car) and an example:

I ran over the dog.

On the internet I found:

I’m afraid we’ve just run a rabbit over.

But it too says “run somebody/something over”. What is the correct word order? What about the passive (e.g., somebody committed suicide)?

He got himself ran over.

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Pietro, does your dictionary actually say Run sb over, or does it say Run somebody over? What is the name of your dictionary? Also, you say "the internet" says Run sb/smth over. Please provide a link. Your question is the only item that google finds for search target "Run sb/smth over", so I'm afraid you may have miscopied "the internet". –  jwpat7 Apr 11 '12 at 8:14
    
Cambridge online:dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/run-sb-sth-over –  Pietro Apr 11 '12 at 8:19
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It depends whether you are more concerned about the car or the animal. –  Philip Sheard Apr 11 '12 at 9:35
    
Passive? There isn’t anything “passive” about “somebody committed suicide”. Do you understand what passive voice even is? –  tchrist Aug 1 '12 at 23:24
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4 Answers

Both are correct.

run over is a separable multi-word verb. This means you can choose to write it like this:

I ran the dog over. (OK)

or this:

I ran over the dog. (OK)

There are many separable verbs in English. E.g.

He can pick up a car. (OK)

He can pick a car up. (OK)

Did you take out the garbage last night? (OK)

Did you take the garbage out last night? (OK)

But there are also many that are not separable E.g.

I bumped into my friend yesterday. (OK)

I bumped my friend into yesterday. (NO!!)

I am looking for my dog. (OK)

I am looking my dog for. (NO!!)

This is just an introduction to the topic of multi-word verbs. If you want to know more, I suggest you look in a good grammar reference.

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Both are acceptable, depending on emphasis or context. to say

I ran a dog over

puts more emphasis on the running over, with the fact it was a dog not as strongly highlighted. Similarly, if you want to emphasise it

I ran a dog over in my nice new sports car

OTOH, if you want to emphasise the dog:

I ran over a dog

as it leaves the listener on the dog, not the running over. And again:

I ran over a dog - a dachshund belonging to our neighbours.

Of course, not running over dogs is even better.

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S. Cat, I fixed spelling of dachshund (which, BTW, is really easy to remember the spelling of if you just recall its etymology, Dachs (“badger”) + Hund (“dog”)). However, I don't get the "leaves the listen on the dog" phrase, so left it uncorrected. –  jwpat7 Aug 1 '12 at 18:36
    
@jwpat cheers. I have no idea what I meant either, so I might have to come back to it. –  Schroedingers Cat Aug 2 '12 at 7:58
    
I presumed something like leaving the listener thinking about the dog but wasn't sure –  jwpat7 Aug 2 '12 at 8:00
    
Yes - I have made it "listener", which is probably what I meant. Or at least it makes sense now. –  Schroedingers Cat Aug 2 '12 at 8:04
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The verb run can be followed by various prepositions giving sentences such as:

  • She ran into the room. He ran out of the house. I ran over the bridge.

Here the verb to run is intransitive and followed by a prepositional phrase. In none of these cases is it possible to put the preposition at the end of the sentence. So it is incorrect to say:

  • I ran the bridge over.

But in the OP's examples we are not dealing with a verb plus a preposition but with the phrasal verb "to run over" with the meaning of "to drive over". In this case we have a transitive verb containing the particle over. In most such cases it is possible to put the particle both before and after the noun phrase. Examples:

  • She turned off the light. She turned the light off.
  • She looked over the manuscript. She looked the manuscript over.

On this basis it is possible to say both:

  • We ran over the rabbit.

and

  • We ran the rabbit over.
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This is correct, but putting the preposition to the end is clunky and grates. The reason being it requires the absence of a noun to remove a potential ambiguity, which is not very neat. Consider: We ran the dog over the hill. I would always use We ran over the dog and rephrase it if @Barrie England's ambiguity was an issue. –  Henry Gomersall Apr 11 '12 at 10:28
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Strictly speaking over and off in the phrasal verbs run over and turn off are particles rather than prepositions. Be that as it may, where to position them will be a matter of style rather than grammar. I don't find the position of off in Please turn the tap off grating, but might do so if it were pushed further away from the verb by a heavier noun phrase. Interestingly, when the noun is replaced by a pronoun, the particle usually needs to go at the end. So, we can say Please turn it off, but not Please turn off it. –  Shoe Apr 11 '12 at 14:31
    
Interesting indeed. One can, however, say Please run over it. I wonder if this is more down to the fact that off it is the dominant idiom in that case. I agree with it being a matter of style, hence my comment. –  Henry Gomersall Apr 11 '12 at 15:31
    
Shoe, re "it is incorrect to say: I ran the bridge over": If you drive your car across a bridge, it seems to me that you ran over the bridge with your car, so can say, "I ran over the bridge with my car", from which "I ran the bridge over with my car" or "I ran the bridge over" is a natural consequence. –  jwpat7 Aug 2 '12 at 4:47
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The sentence ‘I ran over the dog’ can, depending on context, be construed either as containing the past tense of the phrasal verb run over, meaning ‘hit by a motor car and probably causing injury or death’, or as containing the past tense of the verb run, meaning ‘move fast on two feet’ and followed by the preposition ‘over’.

If the former meaning is intended, any ambiguity can be removed by placing over at the end of the sentence. ‘I ran the dog over’ can only mean that the dog was in some way inconvenienced.

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Also if I get it correctly, 'I ran the dog over' means definitely I hit it by car while 'I ran over the dog' means I e.g. jumped over it while running. Isnt your last sentence vice versa? –  Pietro Apr 11 '12 at 8:11
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@Pietro: 'I ran over the dog' can mean both, although it's more likely to mean that I hit the dog with my car. No, the last sentence is as I intended. By injuring or killing the dog I inconvenience it. –  Barrie England Apr 11 '12 at 8:57
    
@Pietro: In speech, the two will differ in subtle pronunciation. Running, occurring over the dog, sounds like 'I ran - over the dog', and 'I injured the dog with the car' is more 'I ranover the dog'. The latter is the more likely thing you'll hear (over all utterances), because you would probably just say something else than 'I ran - over the dog': 'I jumped over the dog', 'I hurdled the dog'. (that is to say if you heard 'I ran over the dog' and couldn't tell if there was a slight pause in there or not, you would naturally assume, that the poor dog was hurt (the 'ranover' example). –  Mitch Apr 11 '12 at 13:36
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