annual growth of [over 7 percent]

What do you think the part of "over" is?

Is "over" considered the preposition of the object "7 percent"?

  1. over [7 percent]

Or, is "over" considered the adverb modifying the adjective "7" in front of the noun "percent"?

  1. [over 7] percent

Which one is right?

  • You probably should not be thinking of seven as an adjective. It’s a number. This question does not provide any background research, and it is only soliciting opinions. – tchrist Apr 19 '15 at 14:22
  • OED lists it as a preposition in definition 13 under over, prep. and conj. - In excess of, above, more than (a stated amount or number). But I must say it "feels" more like an adjective in the cited context. I'd be happier calling it a preposition in, say, Annual growth over the past decade has been [under/over/almost] 7%. – FumbleFingers Apr 19 '15 at 14:31
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    John Lawler has said: Calling something an "adverb" is a confession of ignorance. Mind you, 'secondary modifier of quantifier' is quite a mouthful. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 19 '15 at 15:05
  • @EdwinAshworth If cardinals are substantives, and they probably are, then that would make most of their modifiers adjectival. But that leads to oddities like somehow promoting adverbs in “Almost a thousand are ready” or prepositions in “Over a thousand is enough”. I haven’t thought about this much, but it is odd. Note though the shift in number. – tchrist Apr 19 '15 at 16:32
  • Notice that both versions involve the preposition "over" (not the adverb "over"). For in both versions, the preposition "over" has a complement. For version #1, the preposition phrase is "over [7 percent]" and "7 percent" is the complement. For version #2, the preposition phrase is "over 7" and "7" is the complement. Your example is probably involving version #2. -- If you don't end up getting a detailed enough of a grammatical explanation here in EL&U land, then perhaps consider asking your question again in ELL land for a fuller grammatical explanation. :) – F.E. Apr 20 '15 at 20:30

According to Oxford Dictionaries Online, over is here used as a preposition, not as an adverb:

(sense 3 in preposition)

over 200,000 people live in the area

more than, above, in excess of, upwards of

Over is used an adverb in totally different situations:

  • overhead (birds flew over)
  • ended (it’s over)
  • remaining (food left over)
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    Does "preposition and its object" function as an adverbial phrase or an adjectival phrase in sentences? If so, subject position needs Noun and how could "over 200,000 people" put in the subject position? – anotherworld Apr 19 '15 at 15:39
  • @anotherworld That’s a good observation. If over is a propositional phrase whose object is people, doesn’t that suppose a prepositional phrase can be a noun phrase serving as the subject of a sentence? I’m not sure that works. Certainly live is agreeing with plural people. – tchrist Apr 19 '15 at 16:06
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    If over 2000 people is a prepositional phrase, then how come over 2000 people can follow a verb that only works transitively? Consider: We have placed over 2000 people in good jobs. And "we have flown over 2,000,000 people" means two entirely different things depending on whether over is a preposition or not. – Peter Shor Apr 19 '15 at 16:13
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    With substantive cardinal numbers, it seems we have an adjectival prepositional phrase, over 200,000, modifying people. – Morgan Horse Apr 19 '15 at 20:34
  • @Morgan Horse When 'adjectival prepositional phrase' modifies a noun, is it possible that the phrase position lies in front of a noun? – anotherworld Apr 20 '15 at 1:01

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