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In gunfights, fighters protect themselves from shots by staying behind objects. It's called taking cover and staying behind cover.

But cover, just like shadow, is the consequence of the position of two things (persons or light and a person) in relation to a third one (tree).

So because both are limited in time and space, I would tend to consider them more as concepts than objects. However, in my mind, a shelter is definitely an object.

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  • What is the question here? All of the examples seem correct.
    – jackgill
    Jun 28 '11 at 23:58
  • I don't understand what you are asking either.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Jun 29 '11 at 1:55
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There are three related meanings for "cover" here. You can use "cover" to indicate:

  • the object providing protection (a big rock, say).
  • the protected place behind the object (its "shadow").
  • the state of being protected (like "being in shadow").

I think the third sense is used only as part of a prepositional phrase ("Bad Bart couldn't shoot me because I was behind cover.")

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Cover can exist as a potential when not actually in use. So it continues to exist as an object even when not used. For example, someone could view a landscape and say, "Well never see them, there's too much cover." meaning there are too many objects that have the potential of being used as cover.

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Question:

Is it correct to speak of an object as “cover” ? or to say “behind cover” ?

Yes, it is correct to speak of an object as cover. Trees, rocks, are used as a cover,Although, "cover" is a concept, it can also refer to an object, i.e. Something which gives the concept of cover

There are no trees or rocks on the plain to use as cover

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