In "You will end up alone", is "alone" an adjective or an adverb?

I mean, one can say that "alone" modifies the verb "end up" and, therefore, it is an adverb. However, this phrase can also be understood as "You will end up being alone", in which case it would probably be an adjective.

Besides, it's not that you are performing the action of "ending up" and are doing it all by yourself (unlike, say, the action of dancing all by yourself in "You will dance alone", in which "alone" definitely modifies the verb "dance", and, thus, is an adverb); it is rather a resultant state that you finally arrive at in the process of "ending up".

Unlike in the action of dancing alone -- where you start alone, continue alone and finish alone -- in case of the action of ending up alone you may not at all being alone in the very beginning of it:

"Jack, you are so rude with your friends, you're surely ending up alone!"

Jack still has some friends at this stage of the process.

So, taking this perspective, it seems logical to assume that the word "alone" in "You will end up alone" modifies not the action itself (that is, not the verb), but merely the resultant state (that is, the implied gerund "being", which is dropped off from the phrase), and, therefore, "alone" here is an adjective. However, the noun "being" is not found in that phrase. In fact, there are no nouns in that phrase at all!


1 Answer 1


The meaning of the phrasal verb to end up:

to be in a particular place or state after doing something or because of doing it https://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/end-up

In our case it's about a state (not a mode of the verb's action): in what state are you going to end up (= to be finally)? So the phrase is equivalent to 'you are going to finally be alone' or 'you'll become alone', where alone is an adjective (a noun is also possible in its place, but not an adverb).

  • "a noun is also possible in its place, but not an adverb" - Why not? "You will finally be here" (here is an adverb), "You'll become down with him" (down is an adverb).
    – brilliant
    Aug 25, 2018 at 20:15
  • As I've mentioned in the beginning, 'alone' is about state (not place), so within that concept it's either an adjective or a noun / a noun phrase (e.g. end up crippled, a cripple person or a terribly crippled person - it's still a noun phrase). You can't express the idea of state with a single adverb: come down or get down is OK, while 'become down' is not unless 'down' is used as an adjective (as in 'the down escalator').
    – Alex_ander
    Aug 25, 2018 at 20:32
  • "You can't express the idea of state with a single adverb" - Why not? "My TV is off."
    – brilliant
    Aug 25, 2018 at 20:39
  • From a dictionary: off 3. adj. an off district - so in case of a TV which 'is off' we have an off TV where 'off' is an adjective.
    – Alex_ander
    Aug 25, 2018 at 20:56
  • What about "My TV is here"?
    – brilliant
    Aug 25, 2018 at 21:17

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