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Adverbs for Place (Locational Prepositions)

Express movement in a particular direction

man entering
 

 

Adverb / Preposition

ADVERB

In traditional grammar description, an adverb for place indicates movement in a direction, whereas a preposition for place indicates movement toward an object.  However, linguistic analysis has recategorized adverbs for place into the category of locational prepositions because they function more like prepositions than adverbs. (The term Adverb is reserved for verbal modifiers (-ly) —manner, place, degree and focus—a more closely related group.)

IN THE DIRECTION 

He went inside / in.

He walked back["home" or "where he came from"]

The guards wouldn't let us go through. [The location is understood from context.] 

IN THE DIRECTION / EXPRESSIONS

The captain went below["deck" is understood from context.] 

The captain went below deck.   [location in a ship]

He went home ["home" is a preposition/adverb meaning "homeward"]

He went straight home. [a preposition/adverb accepts a modifier]

He went *to home.  /  He went *his home(N) home

*He went hospital.  ["hospital" is not directional]

*He is at / to hospital.  [(be) "hospital" is not directional]

He is in hospital [expression "receiving treatment" (ENG-Br)]

PREPOSITION

In traditional grammar, a preposition expresses movement toward an object noun— person, place or thing, concept, etc. In current linguistic analysis, both adverbs and prepositions for place are categorized as locational prepositions. That is, a prepositional phrase (he went in the house) is very much like an adverb (he went in) in which the object can be understood from the context. This simpler description makes good sense.

IN THE DIRECTION + LOCATIONAL NOUN

He went inside / in the house.

He walked in back of us. ["us" pronoun]

We walked through the area.

IN THE DIRECTION + LOCATIONAL NOUN / EXPRESSIONS

He went below the deck["deck" a level/floor of a ship]

He went to / in / out of his home["home"–is a noun accepts a determiner]

He went to our homes. ["home"–most nouns can pluralize]

He went to the homes of his friends. [a noun accepts a modifier or prep phrase]

He went to the hospital [prep + locational noun]

He is at the hospital [prep + locational noun]

He is in the hospital [expression "receiving treatment" (ENG-US)]

 

Traditional grammar differentiates an adverb from a preposition—an adverb does not include an object noun but a preposition does. 

Linguistic description finds adverbs for place to be more like prepositions than other adverbs that modify verbs (manner, degree, frequency). That is, a prepositional phrase (He went inside/in the house) is very much like an adverb (He went in.) in which the object can be understood from the context. Most of the adverbs above have been reassigned to the category of Preposition.   For details see Grammar Notes below.

Adverbial— a general term for modifiers to the verb; Adverb—a verbal modifier of manner (quickly), degree (very), frequency (often), focus (only) and stance (likely); Preposition—(1) a verbal modifier expressing directional information (to, toward, down, around); (2) a Connective Preposition ("conjunction") (because, though, if) relating additional (more complex) information to the clause.

 

Locational expressions belong to various word categories:

Demonstrativesthis, that, these, those

Locational Nouns room, house, home, hospital, building, city, district, community, department, division, duchy, county, area, province, kingdom, principality, state, country, North, East, West, South, territory, region, continent, etc.  (Most locational nouns require a determiner, but not home or hospital [Eng-Br] or proper nouns, Athens, Paris, etc.)   Also see Properties of Nouns (basic properties that members of the category Noun share).

Locational Adverbs: Locational Adverbs have been moved to the category Preposition. (See below.) The category Adverb is reserved for adverbs (modifiers) more closely related to the verb—manner, degree, frequency, focus.

Locational Prepositions: here, there (deictic), inside, outside, overhead, downhill, around, southward, ashore. See Properties of Prepositions (basic properties that members of the category Preposition share) and Prepositions for Place List.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adverbs (Prepositions)

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

in

inside

near

off

on

opposite

out / outside

over

past

round

since

through/ throughout

to

under/ underneath

up

within

without

 

 

In linguistic description, the above words belong to the category of Preposition. The object is understood from context. Words belonging to the category of Adverb are more closely related to being modifiers of the verb— manner, frequency, degree and so on.  See  Adverbs "What is an adverb?" or Preposition "What is a preposition?".

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adverbs (Prepositions)

Object in the Word Form

 

 

 

Adverbs (Prepositions) that include the object in the word form

A + NOUN NOUN + WARD PREP + NOUN LOCATIONAL 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 prepositions indicate a location. They do not take complements. Here and there take over, right as modifiers¹. 

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/ homeward

 

 

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

¹ (Huddleson 8 §4.2) 

 

 

 

 

 

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

See Verbal Idioms ("Phrasal Verbs").

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Grammar Notes (Advanced)

Traditional and Linguistic Description

Advanced

 

 

 

Traditional and Linguistic Description

TRADITIONAL GRAMMAR—AZAR LINGUISTIC DESCRIPTION—HUDDLESTON & PULLUM

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 often 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 prepositional phrase as its complement. He is upstairs. (This is a "complement" not an "adjunct".)

 

 

 

References

  • Azar, Betty Schrampfer, and Stacy A. Hagen. Understanding and Using English Grammar. 4th ed., Pearson Education, 2009.
  • Huddleston, Rodney D., and Geoffrey K. Pullum. The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. Cambridge UP, 2002.
  • Swan, Michael."adverb particles." Practical English Usage. 3rd ed., Oxford UP, 2005.

 

 

 

 

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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