How would you parse or diagram "This is beyond sad"? My best guess is that the prepositional phrase is elliptical, omitting the true object (necessarily a noun), such as "something," as in "This is beyond (something) sad." I think this analysis preserves the meaning of the sentence and accounts for the accepted functions of nouns to serve as objects and of adjectives to modify nouns. Thanks for your insights.

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    One could argue for isoformalism with 'This is almost intolerable' where traditionally the adjective-modifier is lumped in the adverb class. However, I'd probably prefer the deletion from 'This is beyond being sad'. Perhaps the expression 'beyond Adj' is best regarded as an idiom. Period. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 23 '19 at 16:08
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    I would also suggest that 'beyond' requires a participle after it before the adjective. '... beyond being sad ...' To miss out the participle is valid omission, colloquially, but it is still omission. – Nigel J Oct 23 '19 at 21:28
  • How can "almost intolerable" be anything other than an adjective preceded by an adverb? – Lambie Oct 25 '19 at 20:51

This use of "beyond" is metaphorical. It suggests that there is a range of possible emotions about the situation, "sad" is the most extreme one that has a name, but the actual emotion is even further in that direction. Another way to say it is "This is more than sad".

The death of a single person is sad. The death of an entire family is beyond sad.

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  • I don't think prepositions can be metaphorical... – Lambie Oct 25 '19 at 20:24
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    Why not? A preposition that refers to a relative locations is metaphorical when used with things that don't have physical locations. – Barmar Oct 25 '19 at 20:27
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    Because you can't separate beyond from the phrase "beyond [being] sad", which is just a description of an emotion but not a metaphor. – Lambie Oct 25 '19 at 20:39

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