Who can tell me why "came down some steps" looks to me as it acts like a transitive verb?

And is "some steps" an object of the verb come down?


  • I came down some steps into the corridor.

  • He fell down some stairs while he was...

Syntactically, what "some steps" does function in these sentences?

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – ColleenV Aug 19 '17 at 15:14

Some steps is the object of the preposition down.

The preposition phrase down some steps acts as complement to the intransitive verb came, specifying the path followed in coming. Most verbs involving motion take such complements to specify the origin, path and goal of the motion, and these complements readily "stack", as in your example:

I came [down some steps] [into the corridor].

You could add even more:

I came [out the door] [down some steps] [into the corridor] [toward the hall].

It probably looks to you like a transitive verb because at some point in your learning you have been exposed to the rubbishy notion that collocations like fall down are "phrasal verbs"—a term which has been used, and abused, in so many different senses that it has no discernible meaning whatever.

  • The way you pronounce it, with "some steps/stairs" separate from "down", is not in keeping with classifying "down" as a preposition. Prepositions attach to their objects. – Gustavson Aug 18 '17 at 15:33
  • @Gustavson The most common object of a preposition is a noun phrase (or in some grammatical sects a determiner phrase), which may be a bare noun but may equally be a determined noun or a modified noun, or a noun which is both determined and modified. Some steps is a noun phrase , no different from the steps or the steep steps or many steep steps, and is an entirely ordinary object of a preposition. – StoneyB on hiatus Aug 18 '17 at 15:39
  • Thank you for your best answer. You didn't just answer my question, but you answered my question and questions that may come at my mind. This the first time that i hear that not all the verbs could form phrasal verbs with their particles always act like phrasal verbs, but each parts acts alone such as this instance. @StoneyB – Bavyan Yaldo Aug 18 '17 at 15:50
  • @StoneyB Thank you for your answer. However, I don't know if I made my point clear enough. If you were to insert a short pause in the following sentences, would you agree to do so where I wrote a slanted bar?: I came down / some steps // I came / down the stairs. – Gustavson Aug 19 '17 at 16:09
  • @Gustavson If I put a "short pause" in it would presumably be to focus some element or another; but it wouldn't alter the internal structure of the PP. – StoneyB on hiatus Aug 19 '17 at 16:48

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