Backstory: Back in 2013 the American Dialect Society appointed because Word of the Year. People had begun using a new syntax: noun-phrases and adjectives could now follow because. In response Geoffrey Pullum on the Language Log corrected all dictionaries everywhere and argued that because is not a conjunction but a preposition. With this new usage because has not changed or added to its part-of-speech. It is simply acting ever more like the preposition that it is.

That's all old news. Recently I saw a similar use of which:

The earth was formless and empty, and darkness was hovering over the surface of the deep, which, ugh. (Source.)

Simply by rules of analogy, would this usage make which a preposition as well?

*6/29/17 Edit:

I've found another sighting:

That was it. I walked out (no one clapped, which, fair), and for the next half hour I sat in the quiet dark, as three more people took their turns. I peeked through the curtain a few times. One person was lying down. Another was just sitting there.

  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is almost certainly mispunctuated as the answerer says, and thus error-based. Whether or not Professor Pullum speaks for all grammarians is another matter. Elizabeth Cowper, for instance, in A Concise Introduction to Syntactic Theory: The Government-Binding Approach says 'we will adopt the hypothesis ...'. Commented Nov 24, 2015 at 23:28
  • @EdwinAshworth I would disagree and venture that it is actually a contracted form of "to which I say, ugh."
    – Unrelated
    Commented Nov 25, 2015 at 0:36
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    I don't think it's error-based either. Whether or not the sentence is correctly punctuated, the question still stands: when used in this way, does it constitute a preposition? It think it's actually not only a valid question but an interesting one. Even though the answer is "no" :) Commented Nov 25, 2015 at 0:42
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    You've now included the source. As text-speak, it includes non-standard usages; it may possibly be being used as you say. But ... ugh. ELU is concerned with standard, generally accepted and verifiable usage. Commented Nov 25, 2015 at 9:10
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    ... As Mitch says on Meta, 'The community has explicitly noted that they should mostly avoid things like neologisms or changes to grammar rules that are proposed to be better (by some criteria), and therefore is not (in general – there are infrequent exceptions to everything) creative. The SE (not just ELU) principles of having mostly answerable non-discussion questions directs us away from making up things or discussing the viability of a change in some rule (these are much too opinion-based and / or broad: two close reasons).' [punctuation tweaked] Commented Nov 25, 2015 at 9:30

1 Answer 1


No. In this sentence, it's possible your punctution is incorrect.

The sentence is really:

"The earth was formless and empty, and darkness was hovering over the surface of the deep, which... ugh."

It is a truncated sentence, followed by an expression. The which was about to be a pronoun (as in "which [the earth and its form] makes me feel sick"), but the speaker failed to finish their sentence and instead uttered an expression of disgust. This is not the same as "because bacon".

  • Good analysis until you call 'which' an about-to-be conjunction. Commented Nov 24, 2015 at 23:25
  • Can you clarify? It's my impression that if the sentence were ended "... which makes me feel sick" then 'which' is a conjuction. Thus ... it is about to be a conjunction, and is not a preposition. Am I mistaken? If I had to call it something in it's current form, I'd call it a dangling conjunction. Commented Nov 25, 2015 at 0:37
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    I think that this is an interesting interpretation of the sentence, and IMHO either could be valid. In your case, I would argue the punctuation is still wrong. In that case it is a contraction of "to which I say: ugh". No comma. In this case, "to which" is a compound preposition. I'm not aware of how to describe the use of a word inside a compound preposition, other than to say "in this sentence which is part of a compound preposition". I also think that you are basically agreeing with my answer ("no") even if you think the explanation is slightly different as to why :D Commented Nov 25, 2015 at 0:45
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    If the sentence ends "... which makes me feel sick" then 'which' is a pronoun: which pron. ... 4. A thing or circumstance that: He left early, which was wise. {AHDEL} >> Collins assumes a missing noun: which determiner ... 4. as; and that: used in relative clauses with verb phrases or sentences as their antecedents: he died of cancer, which [outcome] is what I predicted. >> but should include 'used as pronoun'. Commented Nov 25, 2015 at 9:05
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    Thanks for that Edwin - I never realised which is a pronoun in this context, but it clearly is. I will fix up my answer. Commented Nov 25, 2015 at 10:24

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