3

I'm trying to figure out how the sentence "My hands are shaking like crazy," breaks down into lexical categories. I know "like" can function as a preposition, meaning "similar to", but I'm not sure if "like" can be a preposition since I don't think "crazy" is a noun/object in this sentence, and from what I know, PP's require noun phrases as a sub-categorization rule in syntax.

I would say "crazy" is an adverb since it seems to be modifying "shaking", but that leaves me clueless as to how like functions in the sentence.

Please explain the different parts of speech for "like" and "crazy" in this sentence.

Thank you!

  • So interesting. (I love informal English and all forms of dialect!) – DukeZhou Jun 29 '17 at 16:50
  • Taken collectively, like crazy is an "intensifier". I wondered what the full OED would make of the similar (BrE?) expression like billyo, so I looked it up. Intriguingly, OED says billyo is a "noun", but I really can't imagine what kind of "thing" it refers to (it virtually never occurs except in that "compound intensifier" context). – FumbleFingers Jun 29 '17 at 17:01
  • Actually, I'd say crazy in your context is an adjective (short for like crazy hands - i.e. shaking the way that crazy hands would shake). But how that parsing would work with billyo is beyond me. – FumbleFingers Jun 29 '17 at 17:04
  • 2
    Like crazy is an idiomatic fixed phrase, and therefore its parts no longer have individual lexical categories because they've been reified. It's pointless to argue how to label non-terminal nodes; you can have as many angels dancing on them as you like. – John Lawler Jun 29 '17 at 18:22
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers, you are probably familiar with shaking hands, aren't you? :P – Khuldraeseth na'Barya Jun 30 '17 at 1:21
0

Like crazy is an idiom and should be treated as a single word; an adverb describing how my hands were shaking.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.