English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

If Gryffindor won, they would move (1) up into second place in the house championship. (Harry Potter book1)

They follow him (2) out into the farmyard, and (3) on into the old flint barn. (The Secret Intensity of Everyday Life)

Are those examples of (1), (2) and (3) the same consecutive prepositions as the case in J.R.’s reply?

share|improve this question
up vote 7 down vote accepted

The first example of “move up into second place” is a phrasal verb, to move up followed by a preposition.

There is nothing “wrong”, nor even uncommon, with stacking prepositions in English. You can lean out of a second-storey window, or ask someone to come on up out of the cellar — or even, and somewhat famously, ask them what they brought that book that you don’t want to be read to out of up for.

share|improve this answer
AHDEL classifies out of as a single ('complex') preposition; cf on top of, the obsolescent over against, and the (arguably 'simple') fused form into (and many others). Come on up out of the cellar arguably contains a particle, an adverb, and the complex preposition out of. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 7 '13 at 7:23

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.