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They spent £160,000 or above on toys, CDs, and perfume. They spent £160,000 or over on toys, CDs, and perfume. Which one of these sentences is correct?

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  • Why do you think one is incorrect? Jul 9 '20 at 11:18
  • I have seen sentences with both, but according to Cambridge grammar "We normally use over not above with numbers". This confuses me. Here is the link: dictionary.cambridge.org/us/grammar/british-grammar/… Jul 9 '20 at 11:24
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    Over £160,000 would be more idiomatic. Jul 9 '20 at 11:40
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    Both are idiomatic in the US, though "over" is probably more common. "Above" would tend to be used when the intent was to emphasize "levels", metaphorically like rising water.
    – Hot Licks
    Jul 9 '20 at 12:06
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    I will note that, in the US, stock market "levels" are expressed in dollars (generally using an average of multiple stock prices). And the terms "above" and "below" are often use.
    – Hot Licks
    Jul 9 '20 at 13:05
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Licensing references for the usages are quite hard to find.

Lexico gives under above:

• (adverb) 1 [the part of speech is disputed by others]

  • 1.1 Higher in grade or rank.

an officer of the rank of superintendent or above

(this sense, for grades / ranks, is not available with 'over')

  • 1.2 Higher than a specified amount, rate, or norm.

boats of 31 ft. or above

And, under over, Collins gives:

(adverb) ...

  • more; in excess; beyond

three hours or over

So with numbers, or especially, as here, with measures (numbers + units), either is acceptable. Cambridge Dictionary ... Grammar is saying that with pure numbers and numbers with standard units or non-physical 'units' like people, cars, outside the 'or over/above usage, , 'over' is the more usual choice . 'There were over 50 000 deaths from the virus.' But the examples it scores through (I get above sixty emails a day. / If you weigh above 100 kilograms, then you may need to start a diet.) are just less usual (and more formal in register), by no means unacceptable.

And as @Isabel points out, more (and where necessary more than) may be the most idiomatic choice. 'They spent £160,000 or more on toys, CDs, and perfume.'

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