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Lit a fire "inside her" or "inside of her"

  1. Which is correct in this case?
  2. Is "inside" a preposition here?

I read the similar questions to mine, in particular this one - “Inside of a house” versus “inside a house”?

I'm pretty sure the correct answer to my question is "inside of her," because inside is a noun (a place) But because my scenario is talking about a person instead of an object I'm still a bit unsure

  • Hello Jessie! Please, please see How do I ask a good question?, taking care to note the comments on search & research, including: "Have you thoroughly searched for an answer before asking your question? Sharing your research helps everyone. Tell us what you found and why it didn’t meet your needs. This demonstrates that you’ve taken the time to try to help yourself, it saves us from reiterating obvious answers, and above all, it helps you get a more specific and relevant answer!" – Arm the good guys in America May 17 '18 at 0:48
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    I read the similar questions to mine, in particular this one- english.stackexchange.com/questions/119971/… I'm pretty sure the correct answer to my question is inside of her, because inside is a noun (a place) But because my scenario is talking about a person instead of an object I'm still a bit unsure – Jessie May 17 '18 at 0:58
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    The expression is metaphoric so the preposition is not one which expresses a purely physical juxtaposition. I would say that 'lit a fire within her' is more idiomatic. The fire is within her person, not inside her abdominal structures. Welcome to EL&U. – Nigel J May 17 '18 at 1:23
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    Neither. You light a fire under someone, or under an animal to get it moving again. I think it comes from an Arab idiom with possibly a literal reference to lighting a fire under a camel to get it moving (or else you die). – Phil Sweet May 17 '18 at 20:38
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    “Outside of a Dog, a Book is Man’s Best Friend. Inside of a Dog, It’s Too Dark to Read.” – attributed to Groucho Marx, Jim Brewer, Mary Stuart, or possibly somebody else.  Although the Orlando Sentinel claims that what Groucho Marx actually said was: “Outside a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside a dog, it’s too dark to read.” (without of) – Scott Jun 27 '18 at 5:37
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To be safe, you might want to use inside her, because that seems more acceptable to English speakers as a whole.

In your clause lit a fire inside (of) her, either inside or inside of are used. In the first case inside is a preposition; in the second case inside of is a two-word preposition.

Note that MacMillan Dictionary says inside of is "sometimes used instead of inside, especially in American English."

Nevertheless, Americans also say inside. In either case, inside her and inside of her are used. Also: I lit a fire inside the fireplace versus I lit a fire inside of the fireplace. Either is fine, at least to many speakers of American English, although presumably speakers of British speakers would prefer the version without of.

Compare the well-worn phrase think outside (of) the box.

There are hundreds of google hits for both think outside the box and think outside of the box and the version with of has been used in such reputable journals as Forbes and many other periodicals.

Inside is not a noun in either version of your clause, because you can't place an article before it. Both the following are not grammatical:

*Lit a fire the inside her.
*Lit a fire the inside of her.

See also tchrist's answer to Is the word 'outside' a preposition or a noun in this context? (you can start reading with the sentence that begins Here's an example that uses outside as five different parts of speech, which is followed by the highlighted box showing five uses of outside; the same uses apply to inside.)

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The phrase, “inside of,” is redundant in my opinion. If you just use the preposition “inside,” you have already established where the object in question is. Therefore why would you want to add yet another preposition, in this case the word “of”? It’s just like saying, “That’s a round circle.”

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There was a young lady, a bride, / Who ate some green apples and died. / The apples fermented / Inside the lamented, / Making cider inside her inside.

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Which is correct depends upon the language of the context...
In English, "inside her" is correct,
In American, "inside of her" is usual.
(The Americans seem to like putting an "of" in all sorts of places that the Brits don't.)

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    There is no such language as "American". – tchrist May 17 '18 at 19:30
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    Both usages apply to both. And I agree with tchrist, American is not a language. – Lambie Jun 16 '18 at 23:09

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