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Is it possible to use' cover off' instead of 'cover up'?

cover up sense of unworthiness

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closed as not a real question by jwpat7, Cameron, cornbread ninja 麵包忍者, Matt Эллен, simchona Jul 5 '12 at 13:04

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possible duplicate of "Cover off" meaning "cover" –  Matt Эллен Jul 5 '12 at 10:33

1 Answer 1

In certain circumstances, perhaps; but not generally.

(This observation, by the way, applies to virtually all English phrasal verb constructions.)

The sole example given is cover up sense of unworthiness, which is certainly not a complete sentence, much less grammatical English -- no subject, no articles, no context.

However, it does appear to notice that cover up is an English phrasal verb. This is correct. The rest of the question seems to want to know what other particles can be used besides up with this meaning, and the answer is generally speaking, none. Occasionally one or another might be, but none can be relied on.

Cover up is an illustrative example. The phrasal verb cover up means something like '(try to) hide from view (completely)'. The 'completely' part is due to the completive sense of the particle up. This is also what makes burn down and burn up equivalent in

  • The house burned down.
  • The house burned up.

If it burned to the ground, it burned down; but if it burned to the ground, it burned completely, so it also burned up. Similarly, if you drink down your beer, then you drink it completely, so you drink it up. Etc.

You can say cover off, but it doesn't mean the same thing.

  • Take the cover off before you leave.

is in fact an example of the phrasal verb take off, with the cover as its direct object, and Particle Shift from

  • Take off the cover before you leave.

So cover off isn't a constituent, but just a random string. Certainly not a phrasal verb.

Cover Down has similar problems, though that happens to be, in fact, the name of a band in Dallas that my son plays with. However, I don't think that's the meaning you're looking for, either.

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I took my hat off to you. –  Noah Jul 5 '12 at 4:42
    
Actually cover off is becoming a phrasal verb in Bizspeak. Meetings have agenda items to "cover off" (ie which discussions should cover/encompass). –  Andrew Leach Jul 5 '12 at 6:02
    
That's interesting. Does one cover the items off, one by one, or does the meeting cover them off? Can they be covered off, and can you say you're covering them off as fast as you can? –  John Lawler Jul 5 '12 at 12:56

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