Down went the Titanic.

What part of speech is down in this context? I have to choose between a) Preposition, b) Noun, c) Verb, and d) Adjective. But I think the correct answer should be "adverb", which is absent from the list.

What do you think about it?

  • When you say "have to choose," what do you mean? Is this homework or a test question? – michael_timofeev Sep 8 '15 at 14:01

Let's have a look and examples.

  1. The Titanic went down (went is a verb , down is a adverb)
  2. Now let's reverse the sentence.....
  3. Down went the Titanic (Down is still an adverb)
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Go down is a phrasal verb meaning ‘sink’. It’s made up of the verb go and the adverbial particle down. Adverbial particles normally follow the verb, but they can, as here, be placed before it for emphasis.

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  • 1
    So you think this is an Adverb – Haque Nov 10 '13 at 17:44
  • That might be one way to analyse it, but you can’t really separate down form went. In this sentence they form a single semantic unit. In any case, down is here neither a preposition nor a noun nor an adjective. – Barrie England Nov 10 '13 at 17:48
  • @BarrieEngland - Is "to go down" really a phrasal verb? Or would the term compound verb be more appropriate? I think a phrasal verb is a verb composition whose meaning you can't find out from the basic meaning of verb and compound particle. -I agree with you that "down" in "to go down" is an adverbial particle; that's the traditional term in grammars. - In "Down went the Titanic" we have a stylistic inversion. I would say not so much for emphasis, but to convey a certain dynamics. – rogermue Sep 8 '15 at 1:43
  • @rogermue In my opinion, a true phrasal verb is a verb and particle combination in which the two form a semantic unit AND the particle can move around in the sentence. "Take off," is a good example. Take off your shoes, or take your shoes off. If the particle can't move or is "locked." It's not part of a phrasal verb. – michael_timofeev Sep 8 '15 at 2:39
  • @michael_timofeev - This is not the traditional use of the term phrasal verb. That the particle can be movable is a separate feature that has nothing to do with phrasal verbs. -en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phrasal_verb – rogermue Sep 8 '15 at 2:47

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