Same Word Used as Preposition and Adverb

In English language, words have various roles to play. Some words may serve as multiple parts of speech depending on their usage in the sentence. This tutorial is going to focus on how the same word can be used as both a preposition and an adverb within a sentence.

Understanding Prepositions and Adverbs

What are Prepositions?

A preposition is a word that shows the relationship between a noun (or a pronoun) and other words in the sentence. It often tells us where or when something is in relation to something else. For instance, in the sentence "The cat is under the table", 'under' is a preposition that shows the relationship between 'the cat' and 'the table'.

What are Adverbs?

Adverbs are words that modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. Adverbs express manner, time, place, cause, or degree and answer questions such as 'how', 'when', 'where', 'how much'. For example, in the sentence "She ran quickly", 'quickly' is an adverb describing how she ran.

When a Word Acts as a Preposition or Adverb

There are certain English words that can act as both prepositions and adverbs, depending upon their use in the sentences. Understanding whether a word is being used as a preposition or an adverb often depends on the structure of the sentence and the relationships between the words within it.

Word As a Preposition

When a word is used as a preposition, it typically connects with a noun or pronoun to create a phrase that modifies another part of the sentence. This phrase provides additional information, such as location, time, or manner.

Word As an Adverb

When the same word acts as an adverb, it modifies a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. Note that as an adverb, it does not need a noun to complete its meaning.

Common Words as Prepositions and Adverbs


As a Preposition: 'Around' can mean in a position or direction surrounding, or approximately within a specific area or range. Example: "We walked around the park."

As an Adverb: 'Around' can mean existing or in progress, such as in the sentence: "Is there a hotel around?"


As a Preposition: 'Before' indicates at an earlier time or previously in location or order. Example: "I arrived before her."

As an Adverb: 'Before' indicates at a time preceding the present time. Example: "I have seen that movie before."


As a Preposition: 'Down' signifies moving or pointing towards a lower place or position. Example: "He ran down the stairs."

As an Adverb: 'Down' means moving from a higher to a lower position, often rapidly. Example: "The bird flew down."

Guidelines to Identify the Usage

Here are a few general rules to help you identify whether a word is being used as a preposition or an adverb:

  • If the word in question is followed by a noun phrase (a group of words that acts as a noun), it is likely a preposition. Example: "She walked around the park." Here 'around' is a preposition as it is followed by 'the park'.
  • If the word modifies a verb and does not require a noun phrase to complete its meaning, it is an adverb. Example: "He stood up." In this example, 'up' modifies the verb 'stood' and does not need a noun phrase to complete its meaning, indicating it is being used as an adverb.
  • Conclusion

    English language can be tricky, but understanding the roles words can play in sentences is a major step in mastering it. We should remember that prepositions and adverbs, though they can be represented by the same word, play different roles in a sentence structure. Being aware of how a word is being used in a sentence—in context and in relation to the other words—can give us a clear idea of its part of speech.

    Happy learning!

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