on/by/beside/down by the river

Meja

Member
Joined
Aug 11, 2015
Member Type
Student or Learner
Native Language
Serbo-Croatian
Home Country
Serbia
Current Location
Serbia
I have a house on the river.
I have a house by the river.
I have a house beside the river.
I have a house down by the river.


Can I use all these prepositions (with the same meaning) if I want to say that I own a house next to the river? I guess that the first one could also mean that my house is literally on the river, i.e. built above the water, and I'm not sure if the word "down" changes the meaning in the 4th example.

If I wanted to analyze my last sentence, would it be: the adverb "down" + the prepositional phrase "by the river", or should I perceive that like this: "down by" + "the river"?
 

GoesStation

No Longer With Us
Joined
Dec 22, 2015
Member Type
Interested in Language
Native Language
American English
Home Country
United States
Current Location
United States
The first three mean the same thing: your house is next to the river. The last means your house is somewhere near the river, as mine is; I often walk the three-quarters of a mile to the river.

I'd consider "down by" to be a prepositional phrase.
 

Meja

Member
Joined
Aug 11, 2015
Member Type
Student or Learner
Native Language
Serbo-Croatian
Home Country
Serbia
Current Location
Serbia
The first three mean the same thing: your house is next to the river. The last means your house is somewhere near the river, as mine is; I often walk the three-quarters of a mile to the river.
Do you want to say that the last is not so precise and that it implies that the house is near the river, but not exactly on the coast and you have to walk a bit to reach the coast?

If "down by" should be left together, would that be called "a compound preposition" which would form a prepositional phrase with "the river"?
 

GoesStation

No Longer With Us
Joined
Dec 22, 2015
Member Type
Interested in Language
Native Language
American English
Home Country
United States
Current Location
United States
Do you want to say that the last is not so precise and that it implies that the house is near the river, but not exactly on the bank [STRIKE]coast[/STRIKE] and you have to walk a bit to reach the bank [STRIKE]coast[/STRIKE]?

If "down by" should be left together, would that be called "a compound preposition" which would form a prepositional phrase with "the river"?


See my corrections above. Only oceans and seas have "coasts". Lakes have "shores"; rivers have "banks". The latter term can be used in a singular or plural form without changing its meaning.

Yes. I sometimes tell people, as I wrote above, that I live "down by the river". It's a ten-minute walk or so to get to its banks from my house.

I don't know what the correct term is for "down by", but "compound preposition" seems logical.
 

Meja

Member
Joined
Aug 11, 2015
Member Type
Student or Learner
Native Language
Serbo-Croatian
Home Country
Serbia
Current Location
Serbia
See my corrections above. Only oceans and seas have "coasts". Lakes have "shores"; rivers have "banks". The latter term can be used in a singular or plural form without changing its meaning.
Thanks for the corrections. I actually know these terms but I obviously forget to use them correctly. (We have only one word for all these in my native language.)

Can I use the same prepositions in the same way with the "sea"?
I have a house on the sea.
I have a house by the sea.
I have a house beside the sea.
I have a house down by the sea.
 

GoesStation

No Longer With Us
Joined
Dec 22, 2015
Member Type
Interested in Language
Native Language
American English
Home Country
United States
Current Location
United States
Thanks for the corrections. I actually know these terms but I obviously forget to use them correctly. (We have only one word for all these in my native language.)

Can I use the same prepositions in the same way with the "sea"?
I have a house on the sea.
I have a house by the sea.
I have a house beside the sea.
I have a house down by the sea.

They are all possible. In American English we tend to use "ocean" rather than "sea", and it's more common to refer to the beach in this kind of phrase, if there's a beach at the shore* area in question. For example, I used to live about a mile from the beach.

*Using "shore" here reminded me that we use that term for coastal areas as well as for lake shores. Coast is larger and more general; shore is more specific and tends (I think) to refer to a local area. Shore can be qualified as seashore or lakeshore.
 

Skrej

Key Member
Joined
May 11, 2015
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
English
Home Country
United States
Current Location
United States
I can't resist sharing Chris Farely's skit about living in van down by the river.

Full skit available here, where the best part is watching David Spade and Christina Applegate trying not to lose it while Farley pontificates.
 

andrewg927

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 9, 2017
Member Type
Interested in Language
Native Language
English
Home Country
United States
Current Location
United States
"You're gonna do alot of doobie rollin when you live in a van down by the river." Sorry I can't help it.
 
Top