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The final three months of the year see a dramatic fall in precipitation, to a low of about 10mm in December, and a steady drop in temperatures back to the January average.

the passage is from the writting sample considered to be 9 band which describes the climograph given above. My question is that, does the final clause in bold have to be considered along with the begining part of the passage (The final three months of the year see) and as a result it should be read and construed as ; "The final three months of the year see a steady drop in temperature back to the January" ?

Actually my aim is to determine what the exact role of "back to" here is? Is it verb of the subject - "a steady drop" or adverb modifier of "a steady drop" ? Looking forward to having your responses.

p.s - Don't know how to tag this question so it would be appreciated if anyone edit it and add releated tags.

  • 1
    How should...? (not does...should).
    – TimR
    Mar 10, 2017 at 13:57

1 Answer 1


There is a compound direct object

-> a fall 
-> a drop

drop is modified by a prepositional phrase in temperatures.

The phrase back to the January average can be construed as another prepositional phrase also modifying the noun drop or the noun-phrase a steady drop.


...a long walk back to camp

There is no verb in that phrase, so I wouldn't call back an adverb, though it is often called one.

Two prepositional phrases:

...a difficult climb over loose rock up to the peak

Prepositional phrases can express motion and direction.

  • so would it be wrong to rephrased it like ; Last 3 months see a steady drop in temperatures which ultimaly the figures return to its initial level ? Mar 10, 2017 at 14:16
  • 1
    That sentence would be ungrammatical, because of the combination of the relative which and the new subject the figures. The relative occupies the place of the subject. ... drop in temperatures which ultimately return to their initial level.
    – TimR
    Mar 10, 2017 at 14:17
  • Temperatures is the antecedent of which. drop is not the antecedent of which in drop in temperatures which ultimately return to their initial level.. Note that it says their not its.
    – TimR
    Mar 10, 2017 at 14:22
  • implication was the rephrased seentence Mar 10, 2017 at 14:23
  • 1
    You can understand back as an adverb. But since there's no verb involved, a steady drop being a noun-phrase, I would call it a preposition complemented by a prepositional phrase. back to is definitely not a verb. a steady drop in temperature is an object of verb see, not the subject.
    – TimR
    Mar 10, 2017 at 15:42

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