I wrote the following:

Her words hung in the air as I gazed out of the hotel window. The mountain lay quietly in the dark, like a calm, sleeping giant. A cluster of city lights glittered beyond. In the forest nearby, pine trees bowed slightly in the wind, and the loud cries of cicadas reverberated among the trunks.

By glittering beyond I meant glittering below or on the other side of the mountain (but trying to keep the sentence short).

Something to illustrate what I want to describe:

enter image description here

Is it OK to use beyond like in the example above? Should I change it to something else?

  • 1
    I understand it...
    – mplungjan
    Jun 27, 2013 at 17:17
  • Not only is that a pretty picture but I also like your phrasing.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 27, 2013 at 17:46
  • You're sacrificing a tiny bit of ambiguity for a whole lot more "atmosphere". It sounds good to me and is clear enough what it means. Jun 27, 2013 at 18:00
  • To infinity and beyond! Mar 19, 2014 at 7:01

2 Answers 2


The use of a directional preposition without an object is not uncommon where the object is readily understood from the context.

The following is a line from a common translation of the Odyssey

The opposite point seems more a tongue of land

you’d touch with a good bowshot, at the narrows.

A great wild fig, a shaggy mass of leaves,

grows on it, and Charybdis lurks below

to swallow down the dark sea tide.

The preposition below has no object following it, but refers back to the tongue of land . . . at the narrows.

Your usage is clear in its meaning. It also does not suffer from the awkwardness meant to be avoided by the the "rule" that a preposition is something you should not end a sentence with.

  • 1
    Don't forget- "To infinity- and beyond!" LOL. Edit: For clarity, the reason I am amused is that @bib has a wonderful example with The Odyssey and a nice clear answer (which I upvoted) and the only thing I could think of was Buzz Lightyear.
    – mikeY
    Jun 27, 2013 at 18:08
  • That would be an adverb, not a preposition.
    – tchrist
    Jun 27, 2013 at 18:23
  • @tchrist: It depends on what definition of preposition you choose. Pullum & Huddlestone would call it an intransitive preposition (but there are good reasons to query their analysis). Jun 27, 2013 at 22:15
  • "a preposition is something you should not end a sentence with" ... ha ha, great. Mar 19, 2014 at 7:02

Typically, hotels are located in high-traffic areas rather than on dark mountainsides. Thus, upon reading “I gazed out of the hotel window. The mountain lay quietly in the dark...” I supposed the narrator to be looking out and up at a mountain's outline in the dark, with a city's lights visible in the distance beyond the mountain but off to one side, as lights behind the mountain would not be visible. Had it read “gazed out of the chalet window” or “gazed out of the cabin window” or “lay quietly below us in the dark” I'd have supposed differently. In short, your usage of beyond is not wrong, but the passage as a whole doesn't communicate the same situation as the picture does.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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