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This sentence, the time is up, is confusing me. I think up is a preposition

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  • Yes, it's a preposition functioning as a subjective complement. – BillJ Feb 25 at 17:09
  • @BillJ: is 'subjective complement' a fancy name for an 'adjective'? I thought 'up' was an adjective in 'the time is up' – Void Feb 25 at 17:11
  • No:. Subjective complements are typically adjective or noun phrases, but they can also be preposition phrases. – BillJ Feb 25 at 17:30
  • This doesn’t answer your question strictly so I’m commenting. In terms of language acquisition, I’d accept the entire phrase to be up as an idiom and move on, personally. These words put together have a joint meaning simply because we’ve given them that meaning, not because they express anything that can be seen or heard or felt, and replacing “up” with any word of the same part of speech will unpredictably alter the meaning. – gen-ℤ ready to perish Feb 25 at 19:06
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In that sentence, "up" is a predicate adjective, with a meaning equivalent to "expired":

American Heritage Dictionary
up (adjective) 10. Having been finished; over: Your time is up.

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  • Most dictionaries classify "up" in this sense as an adverb, but modern grammar takes it as a prep. – BillJ Feb 25 at 18:04
  • I looked it up(!) in M-W as well, and they show "Time is up" under adjective. But they show "use up" and "get up" as adverbs. – Jack O'Flaherty Feb 25 at 18:46
  • My MW gives it as an adverb. And so does my Cambridge. – BillJ Feb 25 at 19:24
  • Interesting. The online Cambridge shows the meaning "ended" as adjective,adverb without further clarification: "up adjective, adverb [not gradable] (ENDED) finished, or to an end, finish, or state of being completed: Finish up your breakfast – it’s almost time for school. My time is almost up on the parking meter." I guess the reason it seems like an adjective to me is that it describes a state, at least in the uses with "is". The use with "finish" seems adverbial. – Jack O'Flaherty Feb 25 at 20:03

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