Basically what title says. I've been trying to find this on google but I have not found anything. I just know that on is an adverb when it "modifies a verb", but in this scenario I am not really sure.

An example comes from here: "should I stick the stamp on?".

  • Do you have an example complete sentence you could show us using this?
    – tchrist
    Nov 10 '19 at 22:15
  • It depends on the context: if I'm trying to stick a sticker on my bag, then "I'm trying to stick something on, but it won't stick" it's clearly a preposition. What context are you using it in?
    – Jim
    Nov 10 '19 at 22:34
  • 1
    Some people think it's neither; that it's a particle in a phrasal verb. Nov 11 '19 at 1:55
  • @tchrist done. Hope it helps.
    – olinarr
    Nov 11 '19 at 9:38
  • 1
    The 'phrasal verb' (better, MWV) interpretation is lent support by the availability of a synonymous simplex verb. 'Lydia put the sheet into an envelope, addressed and sealed it, affixed a stamp, then rose from the desk.' In this interpretation, 'stick on' and 'affix' (rarish, rarefied, but grammatical) are synonyms. So 'on' is part of the (separable) (two orthographic word) single lexeme 'stick on' here, and 'on' is neither adverb nor preposition. The dustbin class 'particle' is what's left; this is an (intransitive, in this example) verbal particle. // CGEL offers a different interpretation. Nov 25 '19 at 15:32

to stick on is a phrasal verb, so it's "part of the verb". Context will define if it's serving as an adverb or preposition.

=> Stick it on. (adverb in this case)

=> Stick it on his head. (preposition in this case)

To stick on (to adhere)

To stick up (someone) (to rob)

To stick out (to be conspicuous)

  • But it's not 'part of the verb'. "On" is a preposition serving as a separate constituent.
    – BillJ
    Nov 25 '19 at 13:58
  • On may be parsed as a preposition serving as a separate constituent. But of course that's not the only possible parse, and not necessarily the most common one. Different people have different grammars, and not all of them are what CGEL says they are. Apr 1 '20 at 16:26

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