5
  1. He is home

  2. He is at home

  3. He went home

I know that in the sentence 1 and 3 the word home is considered an adverb and in the sentence 2, home is considered a noun.

According to Rod Mitchell, a famous linguist and English expert who answers questions on LinkedIn, the word "home" is always a noun and may be a verb too but it is not an adverb.

Here are excerpts of Rod Mitchell's explanation which show that home is a noun and may be a verb but not an adverb.

"Home" is not an adverb, no. It is a noun.

My home is in the city of Milan.
The old folks' home is putting on a special show tonight for fundraising.
Home is where the heart is.

It can also be a verb:

The smart bomb homed in on the target.
Homing pigeons are so called because they always home in on their home.

"home" as a verb shows movement towards/to the home of the thing moving. "Home" as a noun basically refers to the place where someone or something belongs (which is why we say "Home is where the heart is").

Old English was a case marking language. All nouns were marked in various ways for four cases, nominative, accusative, dative and genitive. Being an Indo-European Germanic language, in Old English, the accusative had two main uses, one being to show the direct object, and the other to show movement in relationship to the noun. The dative showed indirect object and fixed position.

The case marking showed the role of the NP in the sentence, and adpostions were only used to refine that role.

So, in Old English, "hām"(as it was written and pronounced 1000 years ago) had the accusative form "hām" (Old English nouns made no formal difference between nominative and accusative), and the dative form "hāme" (the modern spelling "home" is from what originally was the dative).

  • ic gā hām = I go (to) home.
  • ic eam hāme = I am (at) home.
  • ic gā ēast = I go (to) east.
  • ic eam ēaste =I am in the east.

As English evolved, overt case marking, except for the genitive 's, eroded, and so for some centuries now, not only have prepositions become relatively more important, to the extent of being equal in semantic value and functional load to nouns, adjectives and verbs. However, we have quite a few "relicts" of case marking, such as "home", "back", "north", "south", "east", "west" (and their combinations), "this week" and "next year", where in contexts where the locational reference is clear, prepositions are not used.

So, what we have in the case of "go home", "stay home", "go east", "Milan is north of Florence", "come back next week", are prepositional phrases, namely sentence adjuncts, that add "locative" content, namely locational, temporal, etc.

In traditional grammar, one claim was that there were four main word/phrase types, nominals, verbals, adjectivals and adverbials – the last one was said to include (logically) everything that is not nominal, not verbal and not adjectival. However, in more accurate analyses, it can be shown that what is commonly included in "adverbials" are actually at least 3 or even more parts of speech (when talking about words), and different kinds of phrase – each of which acts differently and has different grammar.

"Home" in sentences such as "he went home" and "he stayed home" is a noun that is part of a prepositional phrase (prepositional adjunct) that specifies the destination/location. It is a prepositionless prepositional phrase, just as "I was there last week" contains to prepositionless prepositonal phrases, namely "there" (which has overt case marking, the -re) and "next week", which has an understood preposition.

True adverbs are (1) clause manner modifiers: he ran quickly - "quickly modifies our understanding of his speed, and (2) degree modifiers (it is quite hot, he is so in trouble) - quite and so modify our perception of the degree of heat and "in trouble"."

My question is:

Is "home" really an adverb when it is used at the end of sentence without the preposition at?

migrated from ell.stackexchange.com Sep 10 at 10:08

This question came from our site for speakers of other languages learning English.

  • I agree with Huddleston & Pullum, who in their award-winning Cambridge Grammar call the "home" found in "Are you home?" / "We stayed home" a preposition, which actually makes a lot of sense since in means "in one's place of residence". But it's a noun in "You have a lovely home". One up-to-date dictionary concurs: link – BillJ Sep 10 at 11:09
  • 1
    This question has been answered like more than two years ago. english.stackexchange.com/q/385396/27275 – JK2 Sep 10 at 16:17
  • @JK2 it is different, inasmuch it is asking whether "home" is never an adverb and provides evidence to support that affirmation. – Mari-Lou A Sep 10 at 16:26
  • But I believe it is sufficiently different from a preposition here to merit non-lumping. I'd have to go with the non-trad (CGEL is getting rather trad nowadays) opinion that 'home' needs additional POS categories; 'locative particle' and 'directional particle' are suggested names. But this was covered in 2012 in I'm home or I'm at home?. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 10 at 16:30
  • 2
    @DavidM Run in this case is a noun derived from a verb, not a verb itself. Home is a noun here used attributively (sometimes called a noun adjunct), the same as in ‘home appliances’ or ‘home decoration’. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 15 at 22:38
9
+150

It depends on how you think about grammar. If you like the adverb as a traditional part of speech, then sure, it's an adverb. If you analyze grammar and syntax based on function, then you might agree with some linguists that home is an adverbial / prepositionless prepositional phrase, or you might agree with other linguists that it is a preposition. I'll lay out each of the cases in detail.

Adverb?

First, dictionaries will tend to classify this usage of home as an adverb because lexicographers are being asked to put each single word into a part of speech, and they aren't doing much sentence-level analysis. So they pick one of the parts of speech inherited from 18th and 19th century grammarians, "adverb," which is really a catch-all for words that seem to modify adjectives, verbs, clauses, prepositions, and other adverbs (ThoughtCo, "What Is an Adverb?"). So the Oxford English Dictionary has an entire entry, "home, adv.," including this entry describing the usage in "He is home":

1e. Without verb of motion. Arrived at one's house, neighbourhood, or country after a period of absence. Also: in one's home; at home.

And Merriam-Webster has an entire article breaking down adverbs as "a most fascinating POS (part of speech)." In this system, home would be an adverb of place. Adverbs are the catch-all category of traditional grammar.

Adverbial? Prepositionless Prepositional Phrase?

Home as adverb is less satisfying to linguists who want a more nuanced description of how language functions on a syntactic level. Does home really work the exact same as other adverbs of place, which might also be considered prepositions (on, around), adjectives (backwards), or nouns (everywhere) in other contexts? More robust labeling of a word or phrase's function gets around the difficulties around parts of speech. So Rod Mitchell and other linguists can say home is a noun, and when it appears to be an adverb in the traditional system, it is actually a prepositional phrase (or in Rod Mitchell's words a "prepositionless prepositional phrase") where the preposition is elided. (The OED poses elision as a possibility in the etymology for "home, adv.") In this reading, the three sample sentences might be rendered like so, with parenthesis representing the elision:

  1. He is (at) home ("home" is noun within a prepositional phrase where the preposition is elided)

  2. He is at home ("at home" is a prepositional phrase denoting location)

  3. He went (to) home ("to home" is a prepositional phrase denoting destination)

In this kind of treatment, the explicit or implied prepositional phrase might also be called an adverbial phrase (ThoughtCo), signalling that it is performing the function of modifying a verb, adjective, or clause. This kind of terminology is still generally familiar to the traditional grammar crowd, but technical enough to acknowledge how phrases and single words can both have adverbial functions.

Preposition?

Then there are readings that insist home should be another part of speech altogether - a preposition. Huddleston and Pullum have argued that home should be considered a preposition. Pullum models a more accessible version of the argument in Lingua Franca: prepositions don't merely govern/precede nouns and pronouns; they work with clauses and even by themselves. They want the class of prepositions to be expanded to include these spatial words. Maria Brenda explains in greater depth in her exhaustive book on the spatial preposition "over":

Another group of words which do not license noun phrase complements consists of spatial terms which function as a goal complement with the verbs come and go and as a locative complement of the verb be (Huddleston and Pullum 2002:614). The goal complements of the verbs mentioned, such as ashore, upstairs, home, or indoors, are traditionally considred adverbs. Huddleston and Pullum (2002) argue, however, that they should be reassigned to the prepositional category. They claim that adverbs generally cannot function as goal complements to the verbs of motion and as locative complements to the verb be.

The idea is that other spatial adverbs don't substitute in:

x 1 (modified) He is locally.

And also that the words like home are not modifying the verb, any more than young in

He is young

modifies the verb. Brenda takes issue with this last line of argument, pointing out that words like home don't modify the subject of the sentence either, and thus it seems premature to suggest they aren't in some way modifying the verb. Whether you agree with Huddleston and Pullum or not, they show how linguists are attempting to group or classify usages like home according to deep syntactic functions, and how they test each other's own terminology through comparisons and exceptions.

  • 2
    You can send flowers home, and I think you can send home flowers, too, but I'm not positive. And while you can send him home, I'm pretty sure you can't send home him any more than you can send flowers him even though you can send him flowers. And you can't send him flowers home, either. The puzzle I'm trying to demonstrate is whether home is an argument here or an adjunct, and if it's actually an argument, whether somehow it's become a core argument, no less. Oblique arguments can be adverbial (please put it on the ground) but I don't know for sure that core arguments can be. – tchrist Sep 14 at 2:42
  • @tchrist I wasn't thinking about adjuncts and arguments, but that is an interesting idea. The verb send adds complication because it often takes two objects - the receiver and the item sent in one usage ("I sent him flowers"), and the person and the destination in another ("I sent him home"). Then "send home" also works, but not with object pronouns ("I sent home flowers / I sent home Geoffrey" and "I sent flowers home / I sent Geoffrey home," but only "I sent him home" and "I sent it home." – TaliesinMerlin Sep 16 at 21:01
  • @tchrist Honestly, I don't think it has to be one kind of argument (oblique or main), but I need to think about why. – TaliesinMerlin Sep 16 at 21:13
1

The noun "home" can be an adverb/adverbial.

He went home. (adverb)

I will be home soon. (adverb)

He is at home. (prepositional phrase - adverbial)

Not only "home", many other nouns can be adverbials in function. Such nouns are called adverbial nouns. They are also known as adverbial objectives,as they hold a position normally occupied by a verb’s direct object.

The following article on Adverbial Nouns (thefreedictionary.com) gives the details. But it doesn't say anything particular about the word home.

Adverbial Nouns  

What is an adverbial noun?

Adverbial nouns are nouns or noun phrases that function grammatically as adverbs to modify verbs and complement certain adjectives.

Modifying verbs

Adverbial nouns are sometimes referred to as adverbial objectives. This is because they hold a position normally occupied by a verb’s direct object, yet they act as an adverb to modify the verb with an aspect of time, distance, weight, or age.

Time

“I am leaving tomorrow.”

“We walked an hour out of town.”

“I’ll see you next year.”

Distance

“The fabulous swimming pool stretches the whole length of the resort.”

“I can barely see a foot in front of me in this fog.”

Weight

“This block of cheese weighs a ton!”

“Their latest shipment weighs a truckload.”

Age

“She is 35 years old.” (In this case, the adverbial noun phrase modifies the adjective old.)

“This wine has been aged 25 years.”

Also, grammar.com states:

Words we think of as nouns often act like adverbs. ....

Here are some more sentences, with the noun adverb appearing in bold:

He went home.

She got a promotion  yesterday.

She will come to work tomorrow.

It is obvious from the last three examples that the nouns home, yesterday and tomorrow are used without any prepositions, and they function as adverbs.

  • 1
    I think this answer confuses the concepts of "adverbial" and "adverb". My understanding is that these are different things; a prepositional phrase can be adverbial, but it would not be an adverb. – herisson Sep 10 at 17:43
  • @sumelic Both are the same. See the definition of adverbial (wikipedia):"In grammar, an adverbial (abbreviated adv) is a word (an adverb) or a group of words (an adverbial phrase or an adverbial clause) that modifies or more closely defines the sentenceor the verb. (The word adverbial itself is also used as an adjective, meaning "having the same function as an adverb".) Look at the examples below: Tiaan speaks fluently". – mahmud koya Sep 10 at 17:55
  • 1
    That doesn't actually say that "adverbial" and "adverb" are the same thing. "Adverbial" is about function, not word class. And did you look at the Linguistics SE question I linked to that has answers that clearly explain that they are different? – herisson Sep 10 at 17:57
  • @sumelic yes, I have also that notion that adverbial is more about the function than the word-class. But, see the wikipedia's example sentence in which fluently is used; then it denotes both the function and the word-class. – mahmud koya Sep 10 at 18:03
  • 1
    It is possible for a word to be both adverbial and an adverb. But the categories don't overlap in all cases. – herisson Sep 10 at 18:05
1

This seems like an opinion question since all the dictionaries and everyone but you and that guy who wrote that say it's an adverb. All the dictionaries and everyone do so with good reason, too.

With every other noun, we have to introduce a preposition, for example:

  • "He is going to church." (not "He is going church.")

  • "Jessica is at school." (not "Jessica is school.")

  • "We ran to the store." (not "We ran store.")

(Note that includes nouns we don't have to use an article with, like "church" and "school.")

In the examples above, "church," "school," and "store," are nouns, but they are in prepositional phrases. Prepositional phrases can be either adjectival or adverbial, but in these uses and uses like this question's, they're adverbial, modifying the main verb in their respective sentences. So, "church" is a noun, but "to church" is an adverb"; "school" is a noun, but "to school" is an adverb; and "store" is a noun, but "to the store" is an adverb.

Since "home" in "He is home" literally means "at home," it must be an adverb because its use is that of an adverbial prepositional phrase.

You can tell when it's being used as a noun instead of an adverb exactly because as a noun it requires a preposition (for example, "He is at home.").

I love counterpoint, but what you and that guy are saying is all very "calling the blue sky green" or claiming "2 + 2 is 5." Still, everyone is entitled to their opinion. Just remember opinions aren't facts.😊

-2

No, home is not always a noun.

According to thefreedictionary.com, https://www.thefreedictionary.com/home, it can be a noun, but it can also be an adjective or an adverb.

Noun: My home is 2100 square feet. ("Home" is a noun referring to the place where I live.)

Adjective: Bob repairs home appliances. ("Home" is an adjective describing the type of appliance.)

Adverb: I am going home. ("Home" is an adverb describing where or how I am going.)

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – tchrist Sep 11 at 4:54
  • 1
    If we're just doing appeals to authority, OP's is better than yours... – lly Sep 13 at 6:11
  • @Nancy.That guy Rod Mitchel is not an ordinary teacher but he is a famous linguist.He proved why home is not an adverb but a .noun with deatailed explanation. He did not just express his opinion.Your answer is what everybody knows. – Englishmonger Sep 16 at 3:43
  • @jvl So my answer is "what everybody knows", and that makes it wrong? Hmm. So on one side we have 99% of the dictionaries and grammar teachers and philologists in the world, and on the other side we have one guy pushing an unconventional re-interpretation. If you had phrased the question as "here's an unconventional new way of looking at things, what do you think?", than a good answer might be to debate the merits. But just to say, "this teacher said X, is that true?", when X contradicts what all the other experts have been saying for centuries, I don't know how to reply except to say ... – Jay Sep 20 at 18:34
  • ... "no, that contradicts what all the other experts have been saying for centuries". The fact that you describe him as "famous" doesn't really change that. If you want to argue that we SHOULD completely rewrite a slew of accepted grammar rules, okay, I'm happy to discuss that. But just because someone that you describe as famous said it doesn't make it so. – Jay Sep 20 at 18:37
-3

Home can NOT be an adverb. Just as you quoted Rod Mitchel, he specified how the sentence

He is home.

is in reality the sentence

He is (at) home.

Hence, the conclusion, the 1st sentence is actually incorrect by modern grammar. It is a case similar to using double negatives. Some people say

I ain't never doing that.

When they actually mean

I am never doing that.

Grammar, pronunciations and even spellings evolve with our culture, really. But if you talk about grammar in the strictest sense, as in the one, the rules of which you find in oxford manuals, We can clearly distinguish between what is a correct sentence and what is not.

So it does not make sense to call HOME an adverb based on its incorrect usage. And to quote myself,

Our rules of grammar determine the usage of words in sentence, not the
other way around.
  • But "at home" is an adverbial phrase, a prepositional phrase that is adverbial. So if "home" means "at home," like you say, then it is an adverb. – user361733 Sep 15 at 21:53

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.