A preposition or an adverb?

  1. The man at the gate wouldn’t let me through.
    Is ‘through’ a preposition or an adverb?

  2. “The river is only a few meters across in some places.”
    Is ‘across’ a preposition or an adverb?

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In the first sentence it’s a preposition, in the second sentence you need an adjective such as ‘wide’, ‘across’ doesn’t work.

TOEIC listening, photographs: A wood shop

Do you endorse the comments of Torsten.
I heard that if there is no noun after the preposition - through, it acts as an adverb.
Am I wrong?

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“let through” is a phrasal verb consisting of the verb ‘let’ and the preposition ‘through’.

TOEIC listening, photographs: Sale in the open air

‘The river is only a few meters across in some places,’ is conversationally possible and is another way of saying
The river is only a few meters wide in some places.

At risk of starting yet another ‘word function’ argument, I’d say it is an adverb.

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***** NOT A TEACHER *****

Hello, Beeesneees:

Those four scholars (Quirk, Greenbaum, Leech, and Svartvik) in their famous A COMPREHENSIVE GRAMMAR OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE (1985), page 452) agree with you.

Here is their sentence:

“The lake is two miles across.”

They classify “across” as an adverb that is modified by “two miles.”

[My opinion only: I assume that the sentence means something like "The lake is across [= wide] to the extent of two miles.]


That’s very strange. When you replace ‘across’ with ‘wide’, would you still say that ‘wide’ is an adverb? To me, it’s just an adjective answering the question ‘How wide is the river’? The same goes for ‘How long is the river’? – It’s very long.

TOEIC listening, photographs: On a laptop

***** NOT A TEACHER *****

Hello, Torsten:

Those four scholars I quoted above also say this on page 452:

The question is of the form “How + adverb + verb + noun.”

How wide is the lake?

NOT: How across is the lake?


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“The river is only a few meters wide across in some places.”
Could I say as above? Is it correct?

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That’s all very confusing, James. If you can say ‘The lake is a few meters across’, why can’t you say ‘How across is the lake’? If ‘across’ is an adverb modifying a verb as you say, it must be possible to use ‘across’ in a question. By the way, I don’t think that ‘across’ is an adverb modifying ‘two miles’. In the following sentence, can you please tell me if there is an adjective describing the noun ‘lake’?

The lake is two miles across.

This sentence has exactly the same pattern as:

The lake is two miles wide.

The only difference is that the second sentence makes perfect sense and clearly is correct. ‘Wide’ is an adjective and you can ask: “How wide is the lake?” You yourself say that you can’t say 'How across is the lake?"

TOEIC listening, photographs: Selling outside

Hi Bev,

Don’t knock ‘word functions’. If they are got right, clarity rules, doesn’t it?

Apropos of nothing I just want to say how delighted I am you have ditched that excruciatingly patronising mantra. Why not now lose that excruciatingly pink avatar?


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***** NOT A TEACHER *****

Hello, Torsten:

Yes, you are so correct. Very confusing!

In my post above, I reported that the four scholars claim that “across” is an adverb modified BY “two miles.” (The adverb does NOT modify the noun phrase “two miles.” It’s the other way around.")

(That is “It is across to the extent of two miles.”)

I’ll leave all of your other excellent questions to your fellow language coaches. The subject matter is way over the head of your humble servant.


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TOEIC listening, photographs: A lemonade stand

So what’s your opinion regarding the use of ‘wider’ here?
It’s very tempting to restore my signature now.

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Hi Bev, I take it you mean ‘wide’ rather than ‘wider’ ;-)?[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, photographs: An outdoor scene[YSaerTTEW443543]

Hi Bev,

An adjective. So you would restore it just out of spite? Surely not.

Bev, would you say then that ‘across’ in this context has the same meaning as ‘wide’?

TOEIC listening, photographs: Walking on the street

Actually I didn’t mean ‘wide’ or ‘wider’.
I meant ‘across’.

(see definition 1, specifically example ii.)

Sorry for the confusion. That may teach me not to type a message when I’m in too much of a hurry to get out of the door (but I doubt it).

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See above - wrong word.

Why not? After all you spitefully kept referring to it as a mantra, just as you spitefully refer to my slightly photoshopped image as an ‘excruciatingly pink avatar’.

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No. no that’s not spiteful. It is a mantra and it is very pink.

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