Adverbs and Prepositions for Place

Express movement in a particular direction

man entering
 

 

Adverb / Preposition

ADVERB

An adverb for place indicates movement toward a place or in a direction.

He went inside/ in. ("the house" is understood from context

He walked back("home" or "where he came from")

The guards wouldn't let us go through. (The location is understood from context.) 

The captain went below(The object is understood from context.) 

PREPOSITION

The same meaning can be expressed with a preposition, which indicates movement toward an object — person, place or thing.  

He went inside/ in the house.

He walked in back of us.

We walked through the area.

He went below deck.

 

A prepositional phrase includes a preposition and a noun phrase (object).

Traditional grammar, differentiates an adverb from a preposition. An adverb does not include an object. A preposition requires on object. 

Linguistic description finds little difference between the adverbs for place and the prepositional phrases above. The object can be understood from the context after a place adverb. "Place adverbs" have been reassigned to the category of Preposition.   See Grammar Notes below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adverb List

With an Optional Object

child play environment
Pirate Ship Playhouse
 

 

Adverbs that optionally take objects

A child can go (adverb)

A child can go the ship.  (preposition)

 

 

*aboard / on-board

about

above

across

after

against

along

around

before

behind

below

beneath

besides

between

beyond

by

down

for

in/ inside

near

off

on

opposite

out / outside

over

past

round

since

through/ throughout

to

under/ underneath

up

within

without

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adverbs

Object in the Word Form

 

 

 

Adverbs that include the object in the word form

A + NOUN NOUN + WARD PREP + NOUN NOUNS

The words with the prefix a- originate a form of the preposition on (afoot, afar, abed). -a prefix

The words with the suffix -ward originate from Old English -weard  "in the direction of".  backward

The words with the suffix -stairs, -doors, -ground, -head, -where are formed with a preposition + noun.

These adverbs indicate a location. They are noun-like.

abroad

east/ eastward

downstairs (hill, stream, wind, stage, town)

here / there 

ahead  (afoot, abreast)

north/ northward

upstairs (hill, stream, wind, stage)

home   

aground (aloft)

south/ southward

indoors  (side)

 

ashore (asea)

west/ westward

outdoors  (side)

 

aside

back/ backward

underground (foot)

 

apart  "to"

forth/ forward

overhead (board, land, board)

 

away

up/ upward (down-, in--, on-, out-, etc.)

anywhere (no, some)

 

 

seaward / landward

 

 

Traditional grammar, includes these words in the Adverb category.

Linguistic description, includes these words in the category of Preposition. (Huddleston 614)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Commonly Confused

Literal vs. Expression

 

 

 

Verb + Adverb vs. Verb + Particle

VERB + ADVERB / PREPOSITION

When an adverb is used after a verb, the adverb keeps its own meaning.

The machine took the ice off airplane wings. (off modifies where the ice was removed)

She put the candle out on the veranda(out modifies where she put it)

I put my book away(pushed modifies where she it was put)

We gave money in our school.  (in modifies where we gave)

He fell behind the house.  (behind modifies where he fell)

He is through(through modifies where he is)

VERB + PARTICLE

However, with a phrasal verb, the verb + particle combine to form one meaning.  See Phrasal Verbs.

The airplane took off.
(off combines with take to form an expression: departed)

She put the candle out.
(out combines with put to form an expression: extinguish) 

I had my cat put away.
(away combines with put to form an expression: euthanized)

We gave in.
(in combines with gave to form an expression: surrender) 

He fell behind
(behind combines with fell to express: progressed slowly)

He is through
(through combines with is to express: finished)

 

literal meaning — each word has its own meaning

expression — two or more words together have a meaning

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grammar Notes

Traditional and Linguistic Description

Advanced

 

 

 

Traditional and Linguistic Description

TRADITIONAL GRAMMAR—AZAR LINGUISTIC DESCRIPTION—HUDDLESTON

Traditional grammar refers to the words above as adverbs because they answer the question "Where?"  An adverb, unlike a preposition, does not take an object as its complement. 

"Adverbs modify verbs. Often they answer the question "How?"

"Adverbs are also used to express time of frequency.  Examples: tomorrow, today, yesterday, soon, never, usually, always, yet."  

"An important element of English sentences is the prepositional phrase. It consists of a preposition (PREP) and its object (O). The object of a preposition is a noun or pronoun." (Azar  440 A-3)

Prepositions take objects but adverbs do not.

 

Adverbial particles: He went above, about, across, ahead, along, around, aside, away, back, before, behind, by, down, forward, in , home near, off on, out, over, past, through.

"Many words of this kind can be used as both adverb particles and prepositions…" (Swan 20.1)

"Adverb particles are ofen used, rather like adjectives, as complements of the verb be." (Swan 20.3)

Current linguistic description includes place adverbs and prepositions for place in the same category: Preposition.

"they seem much less related to the verb and more like a preposition. A preposition can occur as a stand alone word or be complemented by a noun (an object) or a gerund." (Huddleston "Prepositions vs adverbs" 7 §2.4)

The category Adverb is reserved for modifiers more closely related to the verb (adverbs of manner, degree, frequency, etc.)

Adverb: He went slowly (manner) / often (frequency) / too (degree) fast.

Complements are more essential elements of the clause, dependents of the verb or verb phrase such an elements that function as the Object or Indirect Object.

 

A prepositional phrase occurs as an adjunct clause; an adverb does not.  (Huddleston 8 §4.2)

Preposition:  He went up / up the stairs / upstairs.  He went.

Adjuncts are less essential elements of the clause, loosely attached to the verb or verb phrase, such as modifiers and prep phrases. (Huddleston 15 §5)

Note that some verbs such as be may take a preposition or prep phrase as its complement. He is upstairs. (This is a "complement" not an "adjunct".)

 

 

 

Resources

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 1

Similar but different in meaning

lost wallet
 

 

Complete the sentence.

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" button.
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Practice 2

Earthquake

earthquake
 

 

Complete the sentence.

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" button.
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