I'm struggling with how to diagram 'up at'. Is this a two word or complex preposition or something else?

  • 2
    I lately lost a preposition: It hid, I thought, beneath my chair. And angrily I cried: "Perdition! Up from out of in under there!" Correctness is my vade mecum, And straggling phrases I abhor; And yet I wondered: "What should he come Up from out of in under for?" -- Morris Bishop – Hot Licks Apr 25 at 21:01
  • (They are two separate prepositions, and what you have is a sort of recursive prepositional phrase. This is fairy common -- I'm often up to no good, for instance, especially when the boss is after me to get down to work. But, look up in the sky! It's Superman!) – Hot Licks Apr 25 at 22:08

Treat it as a single preposition for the purposes of diagramming.

It reads like a phrasal preposition, or a preposition formed of two or more words (Garner's Modern English Usage). Fowler refers to these as compound prepositions (example: "outside of").

There are examples of diagrammers treating these as a single preposition. For example, in this model "according to" is written on the same branch without further distinction. The author, Eugene R. Moutoux, notes:

If you counted, you may have missed the seventh preposition, according to, a compound preposition. Some other compound prepositions are because of, on account of, except for, out of, instead of, in spite of, and next to.

In another diagram, Moutoux depicts "on account of" on a single branch and calls it a phrasal preposition.

  • 1
    Much the same can be said of almost any conventional phrase that functions the way a PP does, e.g, with the assistance of, under the auspices of, for the benefit of, with sincere admiration and thanks to, etc. If they're all bunched up together in speech, they're basically functioning as a single word. – John Lawler Apr 25 at 22:22
  • 'into' has already consciously transitioned into a single preposition, but 'out of' has not...unless 'outta' counts. – Mitch Apr 25 at 22:26

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.