Page 1 of 5 1 2 3 4 5 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 45
  1. #1
    Frank Antonson's Avatar
    Frank Antonson is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    1,151
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Is "worth" a preposition?

    A friend of mine asked me the following:
    I was watching television tonight and picked up a sentence which started to bother me as I thought about it: "Training the dogs is worth the effort." I couldn't decide how the word "worth" was functioning within the sentence. I looked it up online and found several definitions. One dictionary stated that it is a preposition/noun. Another claimed that it is an adjective/noun. Yet another said it is a verb.

    Looking at the sentence, I can see the practical aspect of labeling it a preposition, because it is easier to diagram as such. If it is functioning as an adjective, I would like to see the sentence diagrammed so that "worth the effort" is defined--if you don't mind, Frank.

    After having found various definitions for the same word, I am curious: is there a good online dictionary?

    Any suggestions?

  2. #2
    corum is offline Banned
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Interested in Language
      • Native Language:
      • Hungarian
      • Home Country:
      • Hungary
      • Current Location:
      • Hungary
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    1,121
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Is "worth" a preposition?

    Quirk calls it a marginal preposition in CGEL, 9.8., p669.:

    ...there are some words which behave in many ways like a preposition, although they also have affinities with other word classes such as verbs or adjectives
    Some info about preps:

    In the most general terms, a preposition expresses a relation between two entities, one being that represented by the prepositional complement, the other by another part of the sentence. The prepositional complement is characteristically a noun phrase, a nominal wh-clause, or a nominal -ing clause.
    Syntactic functions of prepositional phrases:

    (1) POSTMODIFIER in a noun phrase:
    The people on the bus were singing.

    (2) ADVERBIAL
    (a) adjunct
    The people were singing on the bus.
    In the afternoon, we went to Boston.

    (b) subjunct
    From a personal viewpoint, I find this a good solution to the problem.

    (c) disjunct
    In all fairness, she did try to phone the police.

    (3) COMPLEMENTATION
    (a) of a verb:
    We were looking at his awful paintings.

    (b) of an adjective:
    I am sorry for his parents.
    Like adverbs, prepositional phrases may occasionally take a nominal function, for example as subject of a clause:

    A: When are we going to have a meeting?
    B: On Tuesday will be fine.

    Such nominal use can be viewed as related to sentences that have been restructured so as to leave only the prepositional phrase:

    B: (The proposal that we meet) on Tuesday...
    The preposition can be omitted under the same conditions:

    Tuesday will be fine. = Meeting on Tuesday... or The weather on Tuesday will be fine.

    In addition to the functions of prepositional phrases mentioned in this chapter, we have a quasi-adjectival function as complement:
    This machine is (very) out of date.
    This dress seems out of fashion.

    The adjectival nature of these prepositional phrases is evident from:
    (i) their semantic similarity to adjectives, eg:
    out of date = obsolete
    (ii) their possibility of being coordinated with, or appositional to, adjectives, eg: They are happy and in good health. an old and out-of-order machine
    (iii)
    their use as complementation also for copular verbs other than be, eg:
    They seem in good health.

    (c) Exceptionally (mainly in fixed phrases), an adverb or adjective may function as prepositional complement:

    until now, in brief, by far, at last, at worst, etc.

    (d) Prepositional phrases can themselves act as prepositional complements:

    He picked up the gun from behind the counter.
    The weather has been fine except in the north.

    (e) some prepositions form a correlative construction with a conjuncion or another preposition, eg:

    from six to seven
    between NY and TX
    A definition of preposition

    There are several points of similarity between prepositions and other word classes and constructions in English grammar, in particular conjunctions and adverbs, but also participles and adjectives.
    Before discussing the marginal cases, it will be useful to try to define central prepositions.

    CENTRAL prepositions in English can be defined negatively with three criteria.

    They cannot have as complement

    (i) a that-clause
    (ii) an infinitive clause
    (iii) a subject case form of a personal pronoun:

    Training the dogs is worth that we make an effort.
    Training the dogs is worth to make an effort.
    Training the dogs is worth the money and energy you spend on it.
    Training the dogs is worth they.
    Training the dogs is worth them.
    It looks like we have a prep in the form of 'worth, but then:

    It is difficult (adj) but well worth the effort.
    -- adjectives can be modified by adverbs, preps can't. Note the coordinated elements, which are: 'difficult' plus 'worth', an adjective and an unknown quantity.

    That is why the "marginal", I guess.
    Last edited by corum; 27-Mar-2010 at 13:15.

  3. #3
    Frank Antonson's Avatar
    Frank Antonson is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    1,151
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Is "worth" a preposition?

    http://img717.imageshack.us/img717/7149/worth.gif

    That was wonderful, Corum. It made may day.

    It's nice to know that there is somebody else out there as brilliant at this as Kondorosi.

  4. #4
    orangutan is offline Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Great Britain
      • Current Location:
      • Russian Federation
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Posts
    349
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Is "worth" a preposition?

    Just a few further thoughts:


    Quote Originally Posted by corum View Post
    It looks like we have a prep in the form of 'worth, but then:

    -- adjectives can be modified by adverbs, preps can't. Note the coordinated elements, which are: 'difficult' plus 'worth', an adjective and an unknown quantity.

    That is why the "marginal", I guess.
    Actually I think they can:

    - Our house is just over the bridge.
    - My team is nearly in the Premiership.
    - We are seriously out of our depth here.

    Also the co-ordination problem is not insuperable, as predicative prepositions can co-ordinate with adjectives (and other things):

    - This is beautiful but well outside my price range.

    The big problem with treating it as an adjective would be that adjectives never, as far as I know, take NP complements in English; "worth", on the other hand, takes them all the time.

  5. #5
    corum is offline Banned
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Interested in Language
      • Native Language:
      • Hungarian
      • Home Country:
      • Hungary
      • Current Location:
      • Hungary
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    1,121
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Is "worth" a preposition?

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Antonson View Post
    http://img717.imageshack.us/img717/7149/worth.gif

    That was wonderful, Corum. It made may day.

    It's nice to know that there is somebody else out there as brilliant at this as Kondorosi.

  6. #6
    corum is offline Banned
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Interested in Language
      • Native Language:
      • Hungarian
      • Home Country:
      • Hungary
      • Current Location:
      • Hungary
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    1,121
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Is "worth" a preposition?

    Quote Originally Posted by orangutan View Post
    Just a few further thoughts:




    Actually I think they can:

    - Our house is just over the bridge.
    - My team is nearly in the Premiership.
    - We are seriously out of our depth here.


    I meant prepositions and not PPs.
    Last edited by corum; 27-Mar-2010 at 15:26.

  7. #7
    corum is offline Banned
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Interested in Language
      • Native Language:
      • Hungarian
      • Home Country:
      • Hungary
      • Current Location:
      • Hungary
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    1,121
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Is "worth" a preposition?

    Quote Originally Posted by orangutan View Post

    The big problem with treating it as an adjective would be that adjectives never, as far as I know, take NP complements in English; "worth", on the other hand, takes them all the time.
    It seems sad that adjectives are unable to take NP complements.

  8. #8
    orangutan is offline Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Great Britain
      • Current Location:
      • Russian Federation
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Posts
    349
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Is "worth" a preposition?

    Quote Originally Posted by corum View Post
    The art of being able to set up a coherent syntactic argument often requires more skills than I have.
    On the contrary, your post was a fine example of syntactic argument.


    Our house is just over the bridge. --In this sentence, just relates to the string of words that follows.
    ...which is a PP. Since prepositions only normally appear as part of a PP, it is sometimes hard to tell the difference. But there are cases where it seems to only modify the preposition:

    - it is right beside, and just over, the bridge.

    (co-ordinated prepositions, "beside" and "over")

    Training the dogs is well worth the effort. -- Here, well and worth are the words that are closely related.

  9. #9
    corum is offline Banned
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Interested in Language
      • Native Language:
      • Hungarian
      • Home Country:
      • Hungary
      • Current Location:
      • Hungary
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    1,121
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Is "worth" a preposition?

    This is beautiful but well outside my price range.
    outside my price range = expensive (adj)

    We tend to use the language of spatial dimensions figuratively when we refer to the price of something to describe it in terms of whether it is within our means or outside it.

    Adjectives can be realized by PPs:

    The man in black.,

    just to mention one of the immense amount of instances.

    This is beautiful but well outside my price range = nice + pricy; adj. + adj.
    Last edited by corum; 27-Mar-2010 at 16:05.

  10. #10
    corum is offline Banned
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Interested in Language
      • Native Language:
      • Hungarian
      • Home Country:
      • Hungary
      • Current Location:
      • Hungary
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    1,121
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Is "worth" a preposition?

    Quote Originally Posted by orangutan View Post

    - it is right beside _, and just over _, the bridge.
    The _ denotes the places in the clause from where the pp complements have been moved to clause end position. I forgot the name of this movement. Of course I did. My point I am trying to drive at is that right does not only modify the preposition, but the understood PP.

Page 1 of 5 1 2 3 4 5 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. [Grammar] Can we use a that-clause after a preposition?
    By philipwei in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 22
    Last Post: 23-Jul-2009, 08:17
  2. grammer structure and preposition
    By rinotg in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 17-May-2009, 18:43
  3. [Grammar] Preposition; Countable & Uncountable Nouns
    By Hi5 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 28-Jun-2008, 16:29
  4. arrive + preposition !?!
    By ieasy in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 18-Jul-2006, 07:56
  5. preposition after the verb 'to invite'
    By Yvonne Young in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 02-Jun-2005, 02:26

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •