In the word "countersteering" what is the role of the word "counter"? Is it an adverb or adjective? I am asking because the words are not separated. So I suppose it is an adverb.

Additionally what category of a word this is? Is it a compound verb or something else?

  • counter adverb in a way that opposes something (Cambridge Dictionary). Jul 12, 2022 at 17:41
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    Adjectives and adverbs are parts of speech. Counter- in countersteering is not a word, so it does not have a part of speech.
    – Colin Fine
    Jul 12, 2022 at 17:43
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    I think the question is legit for someone who does not know about compounds and prefixes. And it's a good idea to be less snobby.
    – Lambie
    Jul 12, 2022 at 18:41

2 Answers 2


countersteer: counter- + steer

where counter- is a prefix to the verb of steer.


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    Yes, it is. Exactly, a prefix.
    – Lambie
    Jul 12, 2022 at 18:05
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    @Lambie this is where I was sort of confused. This is after all a compound verb, because I can say "I countersteered into that turn". But when looking at the formation of the word is it built out of an adverb or a "prefix"? Looking up the word "over" in the dictionary there are separate entries for adverb and prefix. Is it when an adverb forms a single word compound verb we treat it as a prefix and when it forms a two word phrasal verb it is an adverb? Jul 12, 2022 at 18:17
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    @MichaelMunta Ok, I see what is confusing you. counter is a prefix, just like post, pre, ab and many others and appears in words like counterclaim and countersuit. It means "against" and comes from Anglo-French contre. The role is to express the idea of steering in a different direction from the one you are going in.
    – Lambie
    Jul 12, 2022 at 18:38

It does in fact exist:


It is a noun. We don't separate out words from existing words. Worldwide is one word so in it world and wide don't have functions. The word is an adjective, unlike the one that was asked about.

Countersteering is used by single-track vehicle operators, such as cyclists and motorcyclists, to initiate a turn toward a given direction by momentarily steering counter to the desired direction ("steer left to turn right").

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    The question is about the function of "counter", not "countersteering". Nobody has debated the existence of the word "countersteering"
    – gotube
    Jul 12, 2022 at 17:54
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    @gotube Frankly, I think you go over board sometimes. At least I put him on the right track. I think my answer is totally appropriate.
    – Lambie
    Jul 12, 2022 at 18:00
  • I might have misunderstood what you're trying to say here, or perhaps you subscribe to a particular school of thought, but in general we do analyse compounds in terms of the parts of speech of their constituents: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compound_(linguistics) en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_compound And if you don't fancy taking wikipedia's word for it, what about Cambridge Dictionary? dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/compounds
    – Au101
    Jul 26, 2022 at 18:19
  • @Lambie and thank you for being so polite in return. I wasn't commenting on you, I was commenting on your answer. Since when did comments under other people's answers have any bearing on our own answers? Now as you say, your answer was aimed at addressing the general statement. Are you not saying that we don't break compounds down and analyse their parts of speech? Because actually we do, which is why I linked to examples of sources where compounds are discussed in that way. Which means the OP is a legitimate question and an answer saying we don't look at compounds like that is wrong
    – Au101
    Jul 26, 2022 at 19:36
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    No, to paraphrase said textbook, in compound words the POS of the head determines the POS of the compound, n+adj=adj (e.g. headstrong); v+n=n (e.g. pickpocket). This analysis is fundamental to the analysis of compounds in linguistics and is why I commented. But I commented assuming that's what you were trying to say (or you were trying to say that this is not helpful to a learner and only of interest to a pedantic linguist). Whereas you responded with "why don't you go read[...]?" and I don't need to be shown examples of reference works doing what I say we don't do "Thanks." That's rude.
    – Au101
    Jul 26, 2022 at 21:01

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