What part of speech does here have in the following sentence?

I am here.

I say that in that sentence, here must be an adverb because:

  • It modifies the verb am by describing where I am.
  • Am is a “being” verb in this instance, not a “linking” verb.

My friend contends that here is a noun because the word here is, in this instance, defined as this place, which in Merriam-Webster is the definition for the noun here.

  • Related to this question about “noun-adverbs”.
    – tchrist
    Commented Apr 11, 2013 at 10:55
  • 1
    'Am is a “being” verb in this instance, not a “linking” verb.' - I know what you're saying, John, but wouldn't you agree that be in this sort of construction is delexical - its only purpose is to connect the subject (I in this example) with its location (here)? Collins takes this view, labelling this usage as link-verb usage, though admittedly the AHD does not. Infants, and I believe some languages, don't use a verb at all in this type of construction (John .. there!; me here). English usually requires a verb in grown-up utterances, so we use the obvious one. Commented Apr 26, 2013 at 19:56
  • Be is not a normal verb. In English it can't normally be modified by adverbs. In German it can and constructions like I am slowly are possible. Commented Dec 4, 2013 at 5:17
  • Of course "here" is not a noun.
    – Louis Liu
    Commented Aug 10, 2019 at 16:47
  • Yes, "here" is an adverbial, but not a predicative (subject complement).
    – Louis Liu
    Commented Aug 10, 2019 at 16:48

9 Answers 9


Both you and your friend are incorrect; sorry.
But that's not your fault; you're at a disadvantage,
if you take your definitions of "part of speech" from English books.
They're hopeless; pay no attention to them.

Here is a proximal deictic locative predicate in the sentence

  • I am here.

It does not modify the verb am.
It does not modify anything, in fact.
(Be) here is the Predicate in the sentence.

The logical form is

  • HERE (I)

The am is indeed an auxiliary verb, meaning -- if anything -- 'be located (at)'.

Executive Summary: Calling something an "adverb" is a confession of ignorance.

  • 2
    @Kris: Not all predicates contain verbs, at least not in the end product. Auxiliary and other predictable verbs get deleted pretty frequently. Also "stating something about the subject" is not a useful definition, since it applies also to adjectives that modify the subject as well as predicates. This is where we came in. Commented Apr 11, 2013 at 15:42
  • 2
    @John: Do I understand from what you say here (and half-remembered points made elsewhere) that you professionals don't really bother much with "parts of speech" (or they use categorisation systems so much more detailed than "schoolboy grammar" that they're hardly the same thing at all)? I'm really out of my league here, but do I correctly understand that from your perspective, if you were forced to identify a specific "POS" for that one word in that one sentence, its' a "proximal deictic locative predicate"? But that you wouldn't "naturally" do this because it doesn't "lead" anywhere? Commented Jan 16, 2015 at 18:54
  • 1
    POS systems vary a lot. From language to language and also from one branch of syntax to another. Computational syntax programs tend to use extremely fine-grained POS sets, with hundreds of boxes, the same way speech-recognition programs use "phoneme" sets with hundreds of "phonemes" -- a total reversal of the linguistic concept of phoneme. In syntactic theory there is always a tendency to invent more non-terminal types for special purposes -- what I call the "angels and pinheads" approach -- which also raises the POS count. I'd say English has 20 or so indispensible POS categories. Commented Jan 16, 2015 at 19:05
  • 1
    @LouisLiu: "POS" means "Part Of Speech", like the classic Latin eight: noun, pronoun, verb, adverb, participle, preposition, conjunction, and interjection. Those were invented about 200 AD by Latin grammarians. Though participle has slipped off the list and adjective has snuck in, these are the ones still taught in schools for English, which is not at all like Latin. Modern POS systems may have dozens of parts of speech, each of which has its own syntactic peculiarities. Like article, for instance; or quantifier (like much and more), etc. Commented Aug 11, 2019 at 14:16
  • 1
    @EdwinAshworth: POS systems used in computational linguistics, like automatic translators, may well have such distinctions. As was found in speech recognition and production software, the more specific categories you can recognize, the more specific and accurate your rules for applying them can be. The result there is that there are systems out there with several thousand "phonemes" for English. Of course, they borrowed the term without the meaning -- linguists would call those "allophones", if anything -- but the same is happening in syntax, and the end is not yet. Commented Aug 11, 2019 at 14:50

I'm in agreement with John Lawler that here is not an adverb here: as he says, 'It does not modify the verb am.' One has to really stretch the meaning of modify for that not to be true (which some linguists do).

Intuitively, though, here is more closely associated with the noun group (a pronoun in this case) than with the verb - the speaker's location rather than 'how' he is existing. We could compare 'I am cold', where 'am' is obviously a delexical verbal link between subject and some attribute. But 'cold' is adjectival, describing an inherent characteristic, while 'here' expresses the reference of a noun or noun-phrase in the context, rather than attributes (which are expressed by adjectives). We're almost at the definition of determiners here, but there is more semantic content to 'here'. I think that words like 'here', 'there', 'home' (in 'Is he home?' 'He went home') need their own category (and a working name for this is locative / directional particles).


I am not sure how to answer the question. Most of the answerers have given well reasoned and well supported accounts. It is possible that we have to accept there are different, equally valid, ways of slicing up the language, as long as they are internally consistent.

However, the problem of supposed adverbs is not confined to the copula (the verb to be)

Most, if not all, intransitive verbs can be modified by ‘adverbs’.

“Where are you going?” “Over there.” This might be cheating. My exact meaning depends on my pointing into the distance or at a map.

“How do you feel?” “I feel well.”

“How are you?”. “Well.” « Comment allez vous? » « Bien » “Come sta?”. “Bene”. Even «Τι κάνετε;» «Καλά»

French and Italian have different intransitive verbs for how are you: “How are you going”; “How are you standing”. Greek preserves what in ancient Greek gets called the adverbial accusative of an adjective. Literally, “*What are you doing?” “Good things”! We have a similar adverbial usage of the words good and great. This probably originates from American English.

Here and there are certainly deictic words. This just means they are words of showing (from the Greek deiknumi). The word is equivalent to the Latin-derived demonstrative, familiar to British of my generation.

The sentence “I am here” conveys no information other than that someone is claiming to be somewhere. To have its full meaning, we need to have other information, such as prior knowledge (of the identity of the speaker and, for example, of the fact that s/he has been traveling to a destination already known me). Or perhaps I am a small child and my father is pointing at a spot on a plan he has made of the room in which they both are.

None of this changes what I think is the simple fact that at least for everyday users of the language, ‘here’ is a kind of adverb (a demonstrative, or deictic, if you prefer, adverb). It modifies the verb am, just as well can.


"Here" is an adverb in the sentence,

I am here.

As you indicate.

"Here" is a noun in the sentence,

Let's get away from here.

Here's a definition! (Which is adverbial usage.)


In this instance, “here" is a preposition. It is describing where something or someone is.

See this answer to the ELL question: “In “Give it here!”, is “here” a pronoun, adverb, preposition, or what?”

  1. I am here.

  2. I am a student.

  3. I am here in the kitchen.

In the first sentence, am is the main verb meaning exist. In a sentence like I exist here, the word here shows the location and does the function of an adverb of location.

In the second sentence, am is a linking verb so that it does not denote any action other than linking the subject to its complement.

What do here and in the kitchen function in the third sentence other than functioning as adverbs?


Well, I did think that 'here' and 'there,' as most often used, would be adverbs. They modify the verb. They are not adjectives. It did occur to me that they could be prepositions, but the definition of prepositions -- A preposition is a word that shows the relationship between a noun or a pronoun and another word in the sentence -- suggests that they are not: they don't show a relationship at all, and certainly not one between a noun or pronoun and another word in a sentence. By process of elimination, then, as well as the fact that they tell you the location of the verb -- or modify the verb -- I believe 'here' and 'there' are adverbs.


No doubt, "here" is an adverb. But that is not the point. The point is, the "here" in the sentence can be interpreted as an adverbial or a predicative.

For example, in

"He has been in a garden",

is "in the garden" an adverbial phrase or a predicative phrase? I contend that it is a adverbial phrase, as is "here" in the question sentence, because "in the garden" and "here" answers the question of where. Also, "In the garden" and "here" are not a subject complement, namely a predicative, because "is" or "has been" is not a linking verb. They are the verbs that express existence (used to show the position of a person or thing in space or time). [see the 2nd entry of the meanings of "be"in Cambridge Online Dictionary: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english-chinese-traditional/be]

  • You sound like you've been looking up grammar info in a dictionary!!! Don't do it! It's not what they're meant yo be used for! Use a 21st century academic grammar book. Commented Aug 11, 2019 at 15:12
  • Do not judge the source. Debate the argument.
    – Louis Liu
    Commented Aug 12, 2019 at 5:28
  • This is a site for linguists et al. We have to judge the source. It's our job. The credibility of the information's very important! Commented Aug 12, 2019 at 15:27
  • I don't quote the dictionary only. See my arguments.
    – Louis Liu
    Commented Aug 13, 2019 at 0:50
  • My comment wasn't about your post in general. (I do think you need to consult a vetted grammar source, though) Commented Aug 13, 2019 at 6:34

"Here" is a pronoun and used as the direct object in the sentence. "Here" is referring to an unnamed place. In context, "here" would be easily identified as the place you are standing.

  • 2
    Welcome to ELU. You're saying that the verb am in that sentence takes a direct object? It's normally described as a copular verb. In a sentence like "Press here" to say it's a direct object might perhaps be valid, but even in that case the direct object is understood to be "this" and omitted. In that case, here might be more of an adverb, although Edwin Ashworth's "locative particle" is rather good.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Dec 10, 2014 at 8:07

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