Is out a preposition or an adverb in these sentences?

  1. "We need to get the hell out of this place."

  2. "We need to get out and leave this place."

  • 1
    In the first sentence, the preposition is "out of". If into is a preposition, its opposite, out of, should also be one. – Peter Shor May 10 '14 at 11:57
  • @Peter Show me von language where the equivalent of 'out of ' is a single word, and I'll believe what you say. – Edwin Ashworth May 10 '14 at 12:15
  • @Edwin Ashworth In Russian "out of" would be "из" or "вне" which is one word. – DSD May 10 '14 at 12:24
  • 1
    @Edwin: How would you translate "out of" into French using two words? In almost all the cases I can think of, you just use "de". Give me a sentence. And in German, if I remember my high school German correctly, the translation of "out of" is "aus". – Peter Shor May 10 '14 at 12:55
  • 1
    @Peter: You would go for the other answer. 'Von' is sometimes translated 'out of' (though almost certainly not in the primary directional sense): acht von hundert = eight out of a hundred. 'De' and 'aus' better illustrate the multi-word-lexeme concept here. But I can't pun 'aus'. – Edwin Ashworth May 10 '14 at 13:14

Is "out" a preposition or an adverb in these sentences?

  1. "We need to get the hell out of this place."

  2. "We need to get out and leave this place."

It depends on the grammar that you are following or are being taught. Some traditional grammars categorize the word "out"--depending on how it is used--as either a preposition, or as an adverb, or as a part of a complex preposition, etc.

Modern grammars usually categorize the word "out" differently. In some of these grammars, some traditional adverbs (such as "out") have been re-categorized as being purely as prepositions, which happens to simplify the grammar overall -- for instance, according to the 2002 reference grammar by Huddleston and Pullum et al., The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (CGEL), the word "out" is categorized as a preposition. CGEL, on pages 616-7:

  • [32] iv. She suddenly jumped out of the window.

  • [33] i.b. I ran out of the house.

  • [33] ii.b. I ran out.

Notice that their examples are similar to your two examples.

Also, on page 616:

The traditional definition of preposition excludes the underlined words, precisely because they are not followed by NPs. For the most part, these and other words of the same kind are therefore analyzed as adverbs in traditional grammar.

In some cases, however, the similarity between the whole bracketed expression and a PP is recognized, and catered for by analysing the first two words as a single unit. This unit does have an NP as complement, and hence is traditionally analyzed as a preposition -- what is often called a 'complex preposition'.

This topic is also covered in the 2005 textbook by Huddleston and Pullum, A Student's Introduction To English Grammar, pages 127-33.


In the sentence:

I left the house.

left is a verb. If we replace left:

I got out of the house.

got out of is a substitute for the verb.


Thus get out or got out is a verb phrase......so out is neither a preposition nor an adverb.

  • 1
    how does this answer the question? – Colin Fine May 10 '14 at 11:54
  • 1
    @ColinFine ...........I have edited my answer........... – Gary's Student May 10 '14 at 12:10
  • 2
    I'd say 'get out of' constitutes the transitive multi-word verb in OP's first example. It is a marginally variable idiom (other than get / gets / got etc): 'get the hell out of' (equivalent to adding an exclamation mark and bolding). In OP's second example, 'get out' is an intransitive MWV. If we must attempt to label the individual orthographic words here, I think we're stuck with: 'out of' is a MW prepositional particle and 'out' is an adverbial particle. – Edwin Ashworth May 10 '14 at 12:28

in both sentences, get out is a phrasal verb.

Out is neither a preposition nor an adverb in these sentences.

  • See my comment under the question. – Kris May 10 '14 at 14:11

I agree that in both 1 & 2, "out" is part of the phrasal verb "get out," so here, "out" has nothing to do with adverbs or prepositions.

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