How are phrases such as go there, turn left, move back etc. analysed syntactically?

are they copula + predicate, verb + object, or something else?

Neither of these solutions seem correct to me, so I feel a bit stupid not being able to analyse such simple phrases.

  • 2
    I think "there", "left", and "back" in your examples are locative adjuncts.
    – Alex B.
    Commented Oct 20, 2012 at 22:49

1 Answer 1


Those constructions would be analysed as verb + prepositional phrase with there/left/back being analysed as full PP arguments of their verbs.

  • It's a bit strange to think of them as PPs, but yeah, that's definitely a better solution than the ones I mentioned. Thanks.
    – michau
    Commented Oct 21, 2012 at 8:21
  • 1
    There's no real difference between NPs and PPs; PPs are just NPs that happen to be headed by a preposition. They're used in much the same ways in English, and PPs don't even occur much in languages with sufficiently complex case systems. Commented Oct 21, 2012 at 14:02
  • @JohnLawler, "no real difference between NPs and PPs". Could you elaborate on that? Then how come NPs can be the subject of a clause, and PPs can't? (although there might be exceptions I haven't thought of)
    – dainichi
    Commented Oct 21, 2012 at 23:41
  • @dainichi Quoting Red Hot Chili Peppers: "Under the bridge downtown is where I drew some blood" has a PP as subject. Commented Oct 22, 2012 at 11:35
  • 1
    @dainichi: a preposition is a marker for a noun phrase, specifying something that could be an inflection (to for dative, with for comitative, etc.) It happens that English has lost all its cases and uses prepositions instead. The same thing happened to spoken Latin around 0 AD, leading to the heavy use of prepositions in Romance languages. As for subject and object, they're rarely in any other than a zero-marked case, but there are exceptions, like German dative-object passives (Mir wurde geholfen) and English transitivizing prepositions (He is listened to). Commented Oct 22, 2012 at 16:01

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