DK school dictionary says "asleep" in to fall asleep is an adverb.

Yet, according to https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/asleep

"Asleep" in to fall asleep is an adjective.

To the best of my knowledge, the "fall" is a linking verb which requires a predicative complement. It seems that DK school dictionary made an error. Isn't it?

  • People can also "fall pregnant"; that supports the linking verb + adjective answer.
    – user134816
    Apr 22, 2021 at 22:22

1 Answer 1


I think the Cambridge online dictionary is wrong in this case; it actually is an adverb when used with the verb “fall”. “Asleep” means “into a state of sleep” when it’s part of the phrase “fall asleep.”

See: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/asleep

  • Could it be that American lexicographers differ fron British lexicographers? Oxford says that's an adjective. source:en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/asleep Macmillan says that's an adjective source:macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/asleep
    – JYJ
    Feb 12, 2019 at 4:59
  • 1
    That’s certainly possible. I can also see it making sense as an adjective. In the phrase “to become asleep” (if anyone would actually say that), “asleep” definitely seems like an adjective to me. “To fall asleep” is more ambiguous. Where was the DK dictionary published?
    – Mixolydian
    Feb 12, 2019 at 5:05
  • 1
    "To fall asleep" is like "to become angry", "to grow weary", or even "to fall ill". "Asleep", "angry", "weary", and "ill" are adjectives in these examples. I think you are correct about "to fall" being a linking verb, at least in the context of "falling asleep". "To become", and "to grow" are also linking verbs in these examples. (US and British style.)
    – Lorel C.
    Feb 12, 2019 at 5:18

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