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I think it's possible for them to fade away to the point of unnoticeable.

This is a line I'm writing. "To the point of unnoticeable" just sounds natural enough to me not to bat an eye about it. But on second thought it doesn't seem grammatical. Can adjectives follow prepositions? Grammar rules seem to say no, but there are idiomatic phrases like "far from complete" "far from perfect". Am I forced to use "to the point of (being/becoming) unnoticeable"?

Some research suggests "to the point of being unnoticeable" seems more common than "to the point of unnoticeable" but I did find this quote from English scholar Richard Dyer:

...they also undergo development and combination, sometimes shifting narrative allegiance and... at others reticent to the point of unnoticeable

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  • It might be that unnoticeable is not a point. Commented Jan 10, 2023 at 22:57
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    I think I must be confused. Have we somehow gone from bad to worse here? The idea that a preposition ever could take an adjective for complement is so beyond strange that it leaves me going back and forth between intrigued and appalled, then back to confused again. :)
    – tchrist
    Commented Jan 10, 2023 at 23:34
  • @tchrist Masterfully exemplified. Commented Jan 11, 2023 at 0:14
  • For @tchrist ’s examples, insert the elliptical being in front of the adjectives (e.g. from being bad to being worse). Then do that to yours. I think it’s possible for them to fade away to the point of being unnoticeable. I think you’re fine without being. Commented Jan 11, 2023 at 4:33
  • UD ventures 'relaxed to the point of lazy' where one might equate 'to the point of lazy' to ' – lazy, even'. Commented Jan 11, 2023 at 15:19

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"To the point of unnoticeable" sounds wrong to me. Confirming this, Merriam-Webster's examples for the "to the point of" idiom all use it followed by a noun.

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  • Well, noun or gerund clause. It ᴍɪɢʜᴛ be that on the point of is more prone to gerund-clause complements and to/at the point of is more prone to non-gerund NPs. Not sure. Both occur with both, but the distribution does not seem similar to me, at least at first glance at the data.
    – tchrist
    Commented Jan 11, 2023 at 1:51
  • Yes, I should have said "noun or noun phrase." You can also use a relative clause (e.g. one starting with "where" as a relative adverb) modifying "point," as in "to the point where it became unnoticeable."
    – alphabet
    Commented Jan 11, 2023 at 1:57

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