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I want to write about "averages" and I need to indicate the dimension that those averages are calculated by.

Example: Let's say, I've visited multiple restaurants in multiple cities. When I say "The average cost of a meal ...", I might need to talk about ...

  • The cost of a meal in different restaurants in the same city.
  • The cost of a meal in restaurants of the same restaurant chain in different cities.
  • The overall average cost of a meal.

What is the correct preposition to use here?

The average cost of a meal across?/among?/over? cities.

P.S. I've found this question on StackExchange which recommends the use of "of" over alternatives but that doesn't work for me here. I am using "of" but I need to indicate the overall group.

average across vs average among vs. average over

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  • It's interesting that you stuck to "in" in your examples, and your meaning came through perfectly clearly: "The average cost of a meal in New York restaurants" || "The average cost of a meal in Olive Gardens in New York, Philadelphia, and Boston" Nov 22, 2021 at 15:04
  • My original case is about some technical stuff that would've been distracting here. I tried to build an example that would speak to the general audience.
    – e-mre
    Nov 22, 2021 at 15:13

1 Answer 1

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I'm sure that different people will favor different alternatives, but of the three you've offered ("across", "among", and "over"), I prefer "over".

However, I'd probably let the object of the preposition dictate which preposition to use. For example:

The average cost of a meal in the five cities chosen . . . (since one eats "in" a city)

The average cost of a meal at the five Olive Gardens chosen . . . (since one eats "at" a restaurant)

The average cost of a meal between the hours of 6:00 pm and 8:00 pm . . . (since one eats "between" two times)

The average cost of a meal for people who can claim discounts . . . (since a meal has a cost "for" people)

It is to a great extent a matter of preference, though.

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