Prepositional Adverb

Glossary of Grammatical and Rhetorical Terms

prepositional adverbs
In these two examples, out and in function as prepositional adverbs.

In grammar, a prepositional adverb is an adverb that can also function as a preposition. Unlike an ordinary preposition, a prepositional adverb is not followed by an object.

Prepositional adverbs (also called adverbial particles) are used to form phrasal verbs.

English words that can function as prepositional adverbs include the following:
about, above, across, after, along, around, before, behind, below, between, beyond, by, down, in, inside, near, on, opposite, out, outside, over, past, round, since, through, throughout, under, up, within, without

Examples and Observations

  • "We were playing records, Mama, listening to the radio, just hanging around. Mama, just hanging around."
    (Annie Lou in Waiting for MacArthur, a play by P. Paullette MacDougal. Dramatic Publishing, 2003)
  • "Ring-a-ring-a-roses,
    A pocket full of posies;
    Hush! hush! hush! hush!
    We’re all tumbled down."
    (in Kate Greenaway's Mother Goose or the Old Nursery Rhymes, 1881)
  • "'He called her up,' she said oracularly, 'he called her up, and asked her to keep you at the telephone, so he could talk to Miss Louise. A thankless child is sharper than a serpent's tooth.'"
    (Mary Roberts Rinehart, The Circular Staircase, 1908)
  • "English has frequent verb idioms which consist of a verb and a prepositional adverb, for example tune in, turn on and throw up. . . . As idioms, the meaning of verb + prepositional adverb compounds is not the sum of the two parts: throw up, for example, doesn't involve either throwing or a direction up."
    (Grover Hudson, Essential Introductory Linguistics. Blackwell, 2000)

    "Pure" Prepositions and Prepositional Adverbs

    "The difference between the pure preposition and the prepositional adverb is illustrated by the following two sentences:

    He ran up the stairs.
    He ran up a bill.

    In the first sentence stairs is the object of up, and the whole phrase up the stairs is an adverbial prepositional phrase modifying the verb ran.

    In the second sentence bill is not the object of up, nor is up a bill a prepositional phrase modifying the verb. It is best to regard up as an adverb modifying ran and bill as the noun object of ran."
    (George Philip Krapp, The Elements of English Grammar. Charles Scribner's, 1908)

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    Your Citation
    Nordquist, Richard. "Prepositional Adverb." ThoughtCo, Apr. 22, 2017, Nordquist, Richard. (2017, April 22). Prepositional Adverb. Retrieved from Nordquist, Richard. "Prepositional Adverb." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 26, 2018).