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We’re having a disagreement about the propriety of a prepositional phrase inside the subject of a sentence, as it’s complicated by the presence of a second prepositional phrase, namely “here.”

Simply–is the following a complete, grammatical, proper English sentence as written?

The level of maturity in argument here is astounding.

Prompted by this specific sentence, but more generally on the propriety of two prepositional phrases back-to-back, is in “…in argument here…,” especially since the first is explaining essence, and being applied to what comes before it (“level of maturity”), while the second directs the reader to a specific place and does not refer back in the same way to what comes before (“here”).

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    Is your question whether two prepositional phrases can occur within a subject? Or is it something specific to this sentence?
    – alphabet
    Commented Aug 11, 2023 at 0:00
  • Prompted by this specific sentence, but more generally on the propriety of two prepositional phrases back-to-back, is in “…in argument here…,” especially since the first is explaining essence, and being applied to what comes before it (“level of maturity”), while the second directs the reader to a specific place and does not refer back in the same way to what comes before (“here”).
    – Mike T
    Commented Aug 11, 2023 at 0:52
  • Are you suggesting that "here" is a prepositional phrase? If so, what definition of PP are you using? Commented Aug 11, 2023 at 1:48
  • Collins includes 'in dispute' and M-W 'in contention' ['being argued over' sense], but neither includes 'in argument'. But I needed to check. I'm encouraged in my assumption that the sentence means 'The level of maturity which is displayed in argumentation here is astounding.' I'd use the expanded version to clarify. // the sentence corresponds therefore to 'The size of the flowers on the rhododendrons here is incredible.' I can't see where a problem would arise. Commented Aug 11, 2023 at 10:05
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    You can stick as many prepositional phrases or adverbs of place (or time) together as you like "bring it up here round the back behind the shed now" "the train went down northwards into the tunnel" etc.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Aug 11, 2023 at 10:59

3 Answers 3

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The level of maturity in argument here is astounding.

Your example is fine.

"Here" is an intransitive locative preposition (in this place) contrasting with "there".

Its function is that of post-head modifier: it modifies the nominal "level of maturity in argument".

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  • Recently you called something an ascriptive clause, IIRC, and said that it was not a modifier. You made a distinction between those things. Would it be possible to see here as a form of ascription, ascribing location to "The level of maturity in argument"? I am not really clear on the precise definition of "modifier".
    – TimR
    Commented Aug 11, 2023 at 12:06
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An analogue of your sentence:

Don't go to Jimmy's Pre-Owned Vehicles. The quality of the cars on the lot there is questionable.

P.S. I think there applies to "the cars on the lot".

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  • Yes: the locative preposition "there" (in that place) contrasts with the locative prep "here" (in this place).
    – BillJ
    Commented Aug 11, 2023 at 12:24
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    Your "answer" is a comment; it does not justify the grammar of the initial sentence. It will appear to any reader familiar enough with English that it is a correct sentence, but that is far from a statement that could be explicited from your answer.
    – LPH
    Commented Aug 11, 2023 at 12:33
  • @LPH I don't recognize transitive verb "explicited" and am not sure what you meant.
    – TimR
    Commented Aug 11, 2023 at 12:35
  • @LPH TimR's answer is fine. The distal preposition "there" contrasts with the proximal preposition "here". Both are intransitive, i.e. a complement is not obligatory.
    – BillJ
    Commented Aug 11, 2023 at 12:45
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    That is another question, and you seem to be giving into user BillJ's point of view; however you answer does give a reasoning that could lead to this conclusion; I must repeat (in other terms): you are merely mentioning a construction.
    – LPH
    Commented Aug 11, 2023 at 13:17
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"Here" is not a prepositional phrase in this construction; it is an adverbial of place that fulfills the additional function of deictic pro-form, more specifically called "reference signal". "Here" could be replaced by a prepositional phrase of the type "in this paragraph", "in this sentence", "in these deductions", etc.; the deictic function would then be taken up by the demonstrative.

"Here" does not constitute a phrase with "the level of maturity in argument". This can be seen from the mobility of this word, which is typical of adverbials; all three constructions below have the same meaning and "here" is the same word with the same function.

  • Here the level of maturity in argument is astounding.
  • The level of maturity in argument here is astounding.
  • The level of maturity in argument is astounding here.

(CoGEL 19.46) Discourse reference
There are numerous signals marking the identity between what is being said and what has been said before. […] We concentrate here on devices that have a special value in referring less to concrete entities than to constituents or aspects of discourse itself. The signals can be divided into two groups, […]:
(a) sentence or clause reference signals
(b) noun-phrase reference signals

(CoGEL 19.47) Clausal reference
Common signals for sentence or clause reference include: anaphoric and cataphoric: here, it, this

(CEG, R. Carter & M. McCarthy, 2006) Deixis (adjective = deictic) A term for words or expressions that depend for their interpretation on the immediate external situation in which they are uttered. Deictic words are orientational features and are typically realised by determiners (a, the, this, that, these, those), adverbs (here, there), personal pronouns (I, you, them).

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    You're conflating word class and function. Preposition is a word class (POS), while adverbial is a function. "Here" is an intransitive preposition modifying "level of maturity in argument.
    – BillJ
    Commented Aug 11, 2023 at 6:32
  • Hm... This here is astounding / Here this is astounding / This is astounding here. There surely is a difference here.
    – DW256
    Commented Aug 11, 2023 at 8:46
  • @BillJ 1/ I am not conflating POS and function. 2/ Nowhere is "here" called a preposition. 3/ If "here" is a preposition, and therefore if "The level of maturity in argument here" is a prepositional phrase, where is the subject of the verb "be"? Only very rarely can a prepositional phrase be a subject. This makes no sense. Moreover, a preposition does not modify, it combines: "Wikipedia: A preposition […] combines with a noun phrase, this being called its complement, or sometimes object. A preposition comes before its complement;".
    – LPH
    Commented Aug 11, 2023 at 11:01
  • @DW256 It seems that the parallel is not exact because you use a pronoun which has a deictic function "This" can be deictic without that being true for "here" (ex;: As he handed the doctor another $500, “This here is for your cooperation and to know that you'll be on call in case we need you, for anything.”).
    – LPH
    Commented Aug 11, 2023 at 11:19
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    You haven't even read CGEL. This explains the reason you don't understand why it's a preposition. When you do, you may change your mind.
    – BillJ
    Commented Aug 11, 2023 at 13:17

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