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  • This book here is the one I was talking about.
  • My brother here just bought a new car.

The two examples above have here following a noun. Most dictionaries say "here" is an adverb. I am wondering why it is used as an postnominal adjective in these two sentences.

You may explain that "here" is actually "in here". Then it makes sense. "In here", a prepositional phrase, can modify the noun. I would like to hear what you guys think.

marked as duplicate by tchrist, TimLymington, user66974, FumbleFingers, anongoodnurse Jul 3 '14 at 0:11

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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    The answer is that locatives like here and there do not really fit well into the adjective or adverb categories. There are their own thing. See the linked-to answer, and maybe the stuff it links to, too. – tchrist Jul 2 '14 at 15:09
  • The proposed duplicate says that here in "I am here" is a predicate. Is that the case in these examples? – Andrew Leach Jul 2 '14 at 15:11
  • It seems to me dialectal speakers are certainly inclined to treat it as an adjective, which is why they're happy to put it in the more "standard" position before the noun "This here book is my favourite". – FumbleFingers Jul 2 '14 at 15:24
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    @FumbleFingers It seems a bit strange that this question has been closed and redirected to a post that asks what here is in the sentence I am here. The top answers there state quite clearly that in that sentence here is a predicate. Now there is now way that anyone can say that here is a predicate in the OP's example, it seems to me. Or can they? I'm confused :) – Araucaria Jan 15 '15 at 15:18
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    Louis Lou. In case you're still wondering, it's a preposition! See CGEL or Modern Oxford Grammar :) – Araucaria Jan 15 '15 at 15:20
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It is true that ODO's entry is not particularly helpful.

OED has a discrete entry for just this case, though:

A. adv.
1. c. Placed after the name of a person or thing to whose presence attention is called: = Who or which is here, whom you see here.

Parts of speech, particularly of ancient words like this which have many uses all slightly different, are notoriously difficult to define. In this case, OED appears to have plumped for adverb because it's describing a state of being.

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    Although OED2 has it as an adjective in a here game. It’s funny calling it an ‘adverb’ when it comes after the noun/pronoun and clearly applies to that substantive. It just doesn’t fit into neat little categories I guess, so unless you want to make up unneat little categories like proximal deictic locative, it’s an oddball. – tchrist Jul 2 '14 at 15:11
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It is difficult to answer this question directly since it asks whether "here" in the example sentence is an adverb or an adjective. As tchrist remarks, this word does not easily fit into either category.

If, however, one rephrases this question in more general terms, it suddenly becomes a very worthwhile topic of reflection. Consider it phrased this way: "In the sentence 'This book here is the one I was talking about' , what part of speech does 'here' fit?"

Now, it is clearly not an adjective for the following reason. An adjective says something about what a noun is, in addition to whatever the noun itself says. (I am, however, interested in FumbleFingers' comment about the way the word is treated dialectically.) In the phrase "this book here" , 'here' , doesn't tell you anything about what the book is. It does, though, tell you something about the book's way of being, namely, where it is. So we can say that 'here' serves to locate the subject noun of the sentence ('this book').

But it serves as a locator in a way that needs to be treated on its own. Compare the difference between these two examples: 1.) "This book here is the one I was talking about." 2.) "This book in the store is the one I was talking about." 'In the store' is an objective locator that could be pointed to on a map. 'Here' , on the other hand, is a subjective locator since it depends on the proximity of the speaker for its meaning. 'Here' , due to its dependence on the speaker's location, belongs to a grammatical category distinct from prepositional phrases such as 'in the store...' or 'on the floor...' Words of this category have traditionally been labelled "deictic" (from a Greek adjective meaning "that which displays, that which demonstrates") . Deixis is an important rhetorical trope that helps a speaker bring the attention of his audience to bear on a single, tangible point.

Based on this analysis, I would call 'here' in the above example a deictic adverb of the locative variety ( Temporal deictic adverbs do exist, and I want to distinguish the use in question from such a temporal use.). It is an adverb because it describes not what it is but how it is . It is deictic because it depends for its meaning on a proximity between the speaker and that to which the speaker referred. And, finally, it is locative since it refers to where the book is located.

The complexity of the grammatical analysis required to establish this simple fact is a testament to the shadowy area of semantics and syntax we have stepped into when we encounter deixis. Is a deictic word really a word, with a definitive grammatical part of speech if it depends for its meaning on non-linguistic objects? Have we not discovered that bugaboo of grammarians everywhere, context?

  • But: A) Semantically, many frank adjectives speak to spatio-temporal relations—and relations of other sorts, too—rather than essences and accidents, “what [NOUN] is”: the distant horizon, the current issue, the popular comedian. B) Syntactically, the nondeictic locative in 1. works the same way as the deictic locative in 2.; and both work the same way as a relative clause, The book which I am holding, The book which you asked me about. – StoneyB Jul 2 '14 at 17:06
  • So you think that on both semantic and syntactic grounds it should be considered an adjective? But you agree that it is both deictic and locative? I want to understand precisely what you're saying. – Slawkenbergius Jul 2 '14 at 17:29
  • I'm saying A) you haven't presented a valid argument for considering it to be non-adjectival, and B) deixis appears to be irrelevant to its classification. – StoneyB Jul 2 '14 at 17:40
  • tchrist's comment on Andrew Leach's answer seems relevant here. I guess I'm trying to conceive of a way in which it is neither an oddball nor something as general as an adjective/adverb. – Slawkenbergius Jul 2 '14 at 18:29
  • I'd say that like most English words it can be used in various syntactic roles - there's nothing oddball in that. – StoneyB Jul 2 '14 at 20:05

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