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please help me to understand using "an average of" in this sentence:

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Husbands help in the house more than they did in the past, but in the UK for example, men do an average of just six hours a week compared to their wives, who do over eighteen hours.

I don't understand why is it used the preposition of. why not: an average without preposition of. What part of speech is "an average of" in this sentence? Is it a noun with the preposition of, or it's an adverb like "a lot of"

There is another example with an average with preposition of. I agree. All in this correct:

The average of 3, 4 and 8 is 5.'

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  • 'Of' is an expression of the genitive. In other languages - inflected languages, the genitive is expressed in the inflected noun. In English the genitive is expressed mostly by using the preposition 'of'. It expresses possession, origin and a whole lot more. 'The average of' collects the numbers which follow, possesses them and states the result.
    – user63615
    Jan 5, 2018 at 13:17
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    Because in "average six hours", "average" would be modifying "six hours" which makes no sense. "An average of" is not a constituent -- it consists of the NP "an average" + the preposition "of". It's the whole expression "an average of just six hours... " that is a constituent, an NP. Btw, the same applies to "a lot of" which does not have an adverbial function since "lot" is a quantificational noun.
    – BillJ
    Jan 5, 2018 at 13:32
  • So, a lot of - is a noun too? but "a little" what is it? - is it an adverb?
    – Stan Wolfe
    Jan 5, 2018 at 13:36
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    Your question makes no sense: phrases don't have parts of speech, only single words do.
    – tchrist
    Jan 5, 2018 at 14:02
  • Not quite: as I said "a lot of" is not a single constituent, but the NP "a lot" + the preposition "of". In, e.g., "A lot of work was done", "lot" is a quantificational noun heading the NP "a lot of work" in which "of work" is a PP as complement of "lot". "Little" is different: it can be an adjective in "Ed has a little boy" and a determinative in "I have got little money" where "little money" is an NP. (NP=noun phrase; PP = preposition phrase)
    – BillJ
    Jan 5, 2018 at 14:04

2 Answers 2

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Average can be a noun, an adjective, or a verb:

If it exists as a distinct item, it is a noun:

The average of 2, 3 and 4 is 3.

If it is a descriptor of a person or thing, it is an adjective:

I find that person to be very average.

If it is describing an action, it is a verb:

I averaged 2, 3 and 4 and found that it was 3.

To use it as an adverb, you'd say something to the effect of:

That person performed averagely in the test.

To answer the question, I would class it as a noun, in that it is defining the item that is the amount of housework undertaken by a man in that statement.

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  • and you can use it as a noun in an adverbial PP like this: "... men do, on average, just six hours of work ..."
    – amI
    Oct 2, 2018 at 6:25
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Surely it's a noun, since it has an article. 'a maximum" and "a minimum' follow the same pattern. I would say the same goes for 'a lot'. Where did you get the idea that it is an adverb? What verb or adjective does it qualify?

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