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1

There is really not much of a difference, I think. Perhaps den ganzen Tag über could be translated as all day long.


4

It's one of the basic functions of über, meaning lang or während. For me there's no difference in meaning. Maybe the variant without über is even a contraction of the one with it. Additionally, here's a drawing: Fits, doesn't it? Apart from this intuitive approach, I can't find any other (e.g. etymological) "reasons" for über in this context.



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