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I was doing my chemistry homework and came across this sentence: "Atomic radius increases down and to the left of the periodic table."

It seems awkward to say "to the down of," but, because left and down are the same part of speech, is it grammatically correct?

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They are not the same part of speech as used in this sentence.

Down is an adverb describing the direction of motion: “it increases down the table.”
Left is an noun, as indicated by the definite article. To the left is an adverbial phrase.

To the down, making the adverb down into a noun, is incorrect.

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The proper counterpart of "to the left of" is "below", but the entire sentence seems a bit suspect. It should probably be "Atomic radius increases as you move downwards or leftwards on the periodic table," or possibly "Atomic radii increase below or to the left of any given element."

"To the left of the periodic table" implies something on the left of the entire table, which is not what the original sentence is meant to convey.

NOTE: We also would say "above", rather than "to the up of," but I do have a private theory, entirely unconfirmed, that "above" was originally "up of". Maybe I should make that a question and see if any etymologists can confirm or deny.

  • Very informative. But, to be clear, is "to the down of" incorrect? – TAAPSogeking Oct 31 '13 at 1:39

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