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In this sentence:

Ben and Jen went home.

Is home both an adverb and a noun?

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Related: english.stackexchange.com/a/75510 –  tchrist Apr 15 '13 at 23:00

5 Answers 5

The tacit assumption in analyzing any sentence is that, for a given analysis of a sentence, every word belongs to exactly one grammatical word class, and there is one unique set of relationships between the words and the phrasal units.

In the case of an ambiguous sentence, there can be two or more possible analyses of a sentence, and so a word could belong to one word class in one analysis, and another word class in another analysis. If the sentence is not ambiguous, there is exactly one possible correct analysis (Though there will usually be debate between competing analyses).

So regardless of the word and the sentence, the answer to the OP's question is no. As another answer here points out, there will of course be cases where a particular word shows up in two different sentences with different functions in each case.

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The same word can be a noun and an adverb but in different contexts. For example, consider home.

  • I am home.
  • He stays home.
  • Ben and Jen went home.

In these sentences, home acts as an adverb, telling us the location of the subject. In other words, it qualifies the verbs be, stay and go respectively.

  • Home is where the heart is.

In this sentence, home is a noun.

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The OED entry of home adv., which is free this week only, has an interesting discussion on home used as a locative adverb in its Etymology section. –  tchrist Apr 15 '13 at 23:04

Home in this construction is short for at (one's) home (with a locative verb) or to one's home with a verb of motion.

  • Bill is (at (his)) home now.
  • They went (to their) home.

Home is one of those idiomatic locative nouns that are allowed to drop determiners and occasionally even prepositions, e.g.

  • be at (the/one's) university/college/school
  • be in (the/one's) hospital/university/college/school

So, what it is is an adverbial prepositional phrase that has been stripped of its prepositions and determiners, leaving only a naked noun to stand for the whole phrase. That's how a noun can be used as an adverb.

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A noun can be used as an adverb as well in cases that do not involve the locative.

 "He stood at the door **hat in hand**." 

Clearly, hat modifies stood by telling the manner in which he stood. Grammatically this is similar to the adverbial function found in "He ran fast."

The OED lists hat as a verb and a noun. It does list hat in hand under phrases and locutions, but does not analyze the grammatical category of the word, hat, in that case.

Of course, one could imagine many more examples: "He stood at the door chair on shoulder,*face aglow*,pockets empty, etc. There is really no limit to such usage of nouns as adverbs. In the right context, English can handle it very well.

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I say that it is adjectival, telling us something about the subject rather than the way he was standing. –  Edwin Ashworth Mar 17 at 21:00

well. why make things complicated when the word HOME in the dictionary is an adverb at the same time. I can say that due to the fact that HOME is oftentimes use to answer the adverb WHERE, it is considered an adverb now. Language doesn't remain as is.

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Because if you make things just slightly more complicated, then you'll arrive at the correct answer. That dictionaries will list adverbial and noun (and indeed verb and adjective) senses of home doesn't answer this question, because the question is whether or not it's more than one of those in this sentence, and the answer is no, because it is not a noun in this case. That langauge doesn't remain as it is is irrelevant, not least since home has had both noun and adverb senses since Old English. –  Jon Hanna Feb 13 at 12:51

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