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


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.'

  • '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
  • 4
    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
  • 1
    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


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.

  • 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

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?

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .