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Diagram It! - What part of speech is DOWN?
April 02, 2013

April 2, 2013


Over the weekend, David and I organized a little Easter egg hunt for our two nieces. They were so excited! I loved watching them bounce around filling their Easter baskets with goodies. Kids are the best! I hope you enjoyed the holiday weekend as well. English Grammar Revolution

Here I am with my sister and nieces just after they found all of the eggs.

In today's Grammar Tips section, you'll learn about the word down. Do you know what part of speech it is? Hmm...

Happy Learning,

Elizabeth O'Brien

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What Part of Speech Is the Word Down?

Do you know the answer?

It's kind of a trick question. Many words act as different parts of speech depending on how they are used.

Down can act as many parts of speech: adjective, noun, verb, adverb, and preposition. In this lesson, you'll learn how it can be used as an adverb and a preposition. Adverbs and prepositions are two parts of speech that are often similar enough to be troublesome.

Quick Refresher

Adverbs are words that modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs.

Prepositions are words that show the relationship between a noun or a pronoun and some other word in a sentence.

Look at the word down in the following examples.

A. The cat ran down the tree.


B. The tree fell down.


In one sentence, down is a preposition. In the other one, it is an adverb. Can you tell which is which? Do you know why?

Adverb or Preposition?

I'll make this very easy on you. There is really only one thing that you need to remember.

  • Prepositions are ALWAYS in prepositional phrases.

A prepositional phrase is a preposition plus a noun or a pronoun. Here are a few examples of prepositional phrases:

at home

in the cupboard

around the bend

If a word is not used in a prepositional phrase, it is NOT a preposition. Let's look at those example sentences again.

A. The cat ran down the tree.

In this sentence, down is in the prepositional phrase down the tree. Now we know that down is being used as a preposition.


B. The tree fell down.

In this sentence, down is not in a prepositional phrase, so it is not a preposition. It is an adverb telling us where the tree fell.


From Adverb to Preposition

Can you think of a way to change down in sentence B so that it becomes a preposition instead of an adverb?

The tree fell down. (adverb)

It's easy! Just turn it into a prepositional phrase.

The tree fell down the hill. (preposition)


Click here to learn more about grammar and sentence diagramming.

_______________________________________________________________ Are you an educator? Feel free to use this information with your students.

About Elizabeth

English Grammar Revolution

Elizabeth O'Brien is founder of, a company devoted to teaching people around the world how to learn and love grammar.

Through her website, books, and programs, Elizabeth shows how to teach and learn grammar the easy way. She's on a mission to inspire and motivate people by making grammar fun and friendly.

If you liked today's issue, you'll love Elizabeth's grammar and sentence diagramming products, which will help you learn or teach grammar through simple, step-by-step instructions and sentence diagrams.

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