'Over time' or 'overtime': which one should you use? After all, both words look very similar. But they both mean very different things. Let's find out more.
The words' over time' and 'overtime' do indeed have completely different meanings and are different grammatically, too. In fact, when I say "words," that isn't entirely accurate. 'Overtime' certainly is a word, but 'over time' is a phrase.
So what do each of them mean? I gave an explanation in the introduction, but we'll dive a little deeper into the definition of each word and look at examples for each.
When something happens 'over time,' it means it happens gradually over a period of time, as opposed to suddenly and immediately. It refers to the slow but steady progress that occurs within a non-specific amount of time.
It's an adverb phrase because it contains an adverb ("over"), and even though "time" isn't technically an adverb, both words together act as an adverb.
The word 'overtime' is a noun and can refer to one of three things:
To make things even trickier, 'over time' and 'overtime' is pronounced exactly the same.
Here's how to pronounce both words using the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA):
It sounds like this:
So now we've learned the meaning of the phrase 'over time,' let's take a look at some example sentences of how to use it:
My dog Brutus was hard work when I first got him, but he's relaxed over time.
Initially, I wasn't sure about my coworkers, but I've grown closer to them over time.
Over time you get used to early mornings when you have a baby.
My personal trainer is teaching me how to grow muscle over time.
Over time and with practice, he came to be an incredible pianist.
And what about 'overtime'? We'll have a look at some example sentences using that word now. Remember that it can have three different meanings, so I'll use all three of those meanings in the examples.
I'm so tired; I've worked ninety hours overtime this month.
I need to speak to my boss; I didn't get paid overtime on my last paycheck.
The commentators have announced four minutes of overtime.
Can we discuss overtime pay before I agree to anything?
As a smoker, my lungs worked overtime to clear my airways.
I hope that the difference between these two words makes more sense to you now. Remember that 'over time' is an adverb phrase because it contains the adverb 'over' and that phrases are always made up of more than one word. This might help you remember the difference between the spelling for each.
But if in doubt, you can always come back to this article. We also have tons of other articles on confusing words, so don't hesitate to check those out too. Improving your English doesn't have to be hard!