A Conversation About Prepositions

Most of you will not care about the following conversation. If you teach English or logic or philosophy, you might.
Left side: Me.
Right side: Scotty.

 
Are you interested in grammar questions?

Yep.

What’s the longest amount of
prepositions in a row that could
make sense? Right now I’ve got,
“We moved up in towards the
light.” I want 4 or more, though.

Oh Henderson had a good one…
Something about takin out the
trash. I’ll look for it

For your example, it’s debatable if
that is really thee prepositions.
The “up” is probably better called
an adverb. And “in toward” could
be called one phrasal preposition

Here’s the one I was thinking of,
more or less: What did you bring
that book I didn’t want to be read
to out of up for?

Well I’d argue that the “up” forms an
adverb phrase. In itself it’s not an
adverb…

Or even: what did you bring that
book that I didn’t want to be read
to out of about Down Under up
for?

You don’t think that if something is
being used as an adverb that it is
therefore an adverb in that
context? I’d agree it’s an adverbial
phrase, but it is also  an adverb.
Just like “I laughed.” ‘Laughed’ is
forming a verbal phrase, but it is
also a verb.

I guess I don’t. Prepositions are
most often spacial-positioning
words, so they will form adverb
phrases a lot. But the same phrase can
be used to form an adjective
phrase. I don’t think its use
changes what it is, at least most
of the time (?)

I guess I’d say you have to
distinguish between the
preposition in the prepositional
phrase, and the phrase as a unit in
the sentence.

Oh, I was going further and saying
your “up” was not a preposition at
all.

I’d agree with what you’re saying
otherwise.

Example: “The dog ran out.” Out is
explaining the direction or manner
of the running, so it’s an adverb.

And in that sentence ‘dog’ is a
noun, but in the sentence “I bought
a bag of dog food.” The word ‘dog’
is an adjective. So what kind of
word ‘dog’ is depends on the
context.

But for what you’re saying, in “I
went from the airport to the
theater” and “I met the man from
the airport”, ‘from’ is being used in
two different kinds of phrases, but
I would just call it a preposition in
both cases.

I’ll have to respond later.

Lameeeeee

[Three hours later]

In response to “The dog ran out,” I
don’t really care if you call it an
adverb. I see why you would.
However, the prepositional phrase
is implied: out of the house, or
outside the house. English implies
lots of things. So I think there’s a
case to be made it is still a
preposition.
About “dog” food…
It’s interesting. I definitely think
context changes what we
call certain things.
I guess you have to answer a
question like this: Is “Dog” used as
a noun as the same word as “Dog”
used as an adjective? Take “Red”
for example. The red tree. OR red
is my favorite. Are these two
different meanings? Or are they the same
word with two distinct usages?
Obviously they’re spelled the same but you know what I mean… I hope.

I would see it as leaving the rest of
the prepositional phrase implied…
what about this one. “I ran n north of
the barn.” “North of” is being used
as a preposition. But in “I ran
north.” “North” is being used as an
adverb.

It’s definitely debatable. I want to
say that at least sometimes, it’s
the same word being used in
different ways. Otherwise we’re
going to have all these different
words that sound the same and
have very related meanings.
However we talk about it, we
should be clear that ” red” and “red”
are not different words the way
“large” and “car” are different words.

I would even say that “dog” and
“dogs” are the same word, but used
with different grammatical
numb er. Similar with “swam” and
“swimming,” same word but with
different tense.

I disagree. In both cases “North” is
an adverb (or possibly direct
object in my book). “Of the barn” is
its own prepositional phrase being
used as an adverbial/adjectival
phrase.

Yeah but the distinction in
meaning between “Praise” and
“To praise” is enough to call them
distinct words with entirely different
sets of rules that govern them.

Or, same word, different form, with
a lot of emphasis on form causing
distinctions in usage and meaning.
Point is, something very different is
happening between “red” and “red,” such
that I would disagree that merely context
determines what it is, or what
something means.

Yeah I’m pretty sure that’s wrong…
“North of” is one unit, just like “I
liked the movie because of the
action”, “because of” is a single
unit. They are called phrasal
prepositions or compound
prepositions.

Yeah I would say “To praise” is the
infinitive form of “Praise.”

What do you think is determine it
other than the context?

I need a grammar goddess to
reveal the truth of phrasal
prepositions.
The forms of the word exist
independent of context and have
distinct meanings. They are
employed in different contexts
because of their form and
meaning.
Also, I have no idea.

Well, I don’t want to say the
context determines what kind of
word something is, exactly…but
assuming we’re being
grammatical, it does put
limitations on what kind of word it
could be. Consider “I bought the
dog food.” “Dog” here could be
either an adjective or a noun,
depending on what the speaker
means. (It might be short for “I
bought the dog some food.”) But I
think usually the limitations
imposed by context are so strict
that there is only one kind of word
it could be. Yet it’s not “because”
of the context, we just use the
context to figure out what the
speaker was meaning. The kind of
word it is depends on what the
speaker means by it, I guess. But
again, assuming we’re being
grammatical, there’s not going to
be much of a different, I don’t
think.

Must text later.

That’s okay.

[5 hours later]

You’re officially my grammar buddy.

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Jacob Carr