I want to express that I take a mean over answers in a questionnaire. This is usually indicated as answers for specific items. Lets assume I have three items with the values 1, 2, and 3. The mean across/among/over the items would be 2.

What is the correct preposition here

  • Can't you just use of, or the average answer is 2? What if your average is 2.5, don't you want the mode, to show what answer is chosen most often? Mar 14, 2017 at 16:28
  • I have to interpret a graph, that is I want to say something about the abstract average across/among/over the values. A simplified version would be a bar chart with a bars that indicates the mean for men and another bar that indicates the mean for women. I want to write in the text a sentence like this: Figure X shows the means across/among/over the items for men and women. Mar 14, 2017 at 16:46
  • If you have three items with the values 1, 2, and 3 then the mean value of all three items is 2. Mar 14, 2017 at 20:15
  • I want to say something like this: "Figure 1 shows the average predicted probilities to choose the 'don't know' category across items conditional on attitude strength" Which preposition do I have to use for "across items"? Are there any other errors in this sentence? Mar 24, 2017 at 13:24

1 Answer 1


Although use of "average over" in situations like the one you ask about seems to have grown somewhat more common in recent decades, and although I have noticed a rise in the popularity of "average across" in articles that I've edited in the past couple of years, these two forms are still nowhere near as common as "average of." The very large difference in frequency of "the average across" (blue line) vs. "the average among" (red line) vs. "the average of" (green line) vs. "the average over" (yellow line) in published works within the Google Books database for the period 1750–2008 is shown graphically in this Ngram:

It should be clear from this graph that the most common wording for your sentence would be the following:

The mean [value] of the items would be 2.

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