He had to have his appendix out.

In the example sentence, what is the parts of speech of 'out'?

As you know, 'out' can be adv., adj., prep., and verbs of both intransitive and transitive.

'have something X' (where X is bare verb, past participle or present participle) is a widely used expression.

  • 1
    It's shorthand for taken out, if that helps. Mar 15, 2023 at 8:28
  • @KateBunting Do you think it's possible to use 'have out sth' instead of 'have sth out': He had to have out his appendix ?
    – gomadeng
    Mar 15, 2023 at 8:39
  • 1
    Traditionally "out" was analysed as an adverb, but in modern grammar it's best analysed as a preposition that indicates movement. link
    – BillJ
    Mar 15, 2023 at 8:58
  • @BillJ What do you think is the point in time to tell 'traditionally' from 'modern'? And preposition requires its 'object' but here there is no 'object'.
    – gomadeng
    Mar 15, 2023 at 9:04
  • I was convinced about twenty years ago when I first read CGEL. But why does it matter to you?
    – BillJ
    Mar 15, 2023 at 9:08

2 Answers 2


'Out' is of course an adverb of direction - but in this particular context it is an idiomatic shortening of the phrasal verb to take [something] out.

He had his appendix taken out.

Further, the entire idiom of "have [something] out" is a common way of saying something was surgically removed:

  • He had a tooth out (a tooth extraction)
  • He had his appendix out (an appendectomy)
  • 3
    @BEBYGONES No, that would not make sense. The surgeon may "take out" an appendix, but the patient "had it taken out".
    – Astralbee
    Mar 15, 2023 at 8:48
  • 1
    @BEBYGONES Then he has the highest pain threshold known to man. And both would be true. He had it out, and he took it out.
    – Astralbee
    Mar 15, 2023 at 9:08
  • 1
    @BEBYGONES If you consider had out x to be acceptable English, then maybe out is the particle of a phrasal verb. I don't consider it acceptable nor do I think most other natives would, so out is still a verb to us.
    – minseong
    Mar 15, 2023 at 16:29
  • 1
    Unfortunately it's very contextual. Replace "tooth" or "appendix" with certain other parts of the anatomy normally covered by clothes, and it has a different meaning. Or for a more innocent example, "He had his tongue out" does not imply any kind of surgery. Mar 15, 2023 at 17:27
  • 1
    Mostly unrelated, but at least one person has performed a self-appendectomy.
    – Jeff Hardy
    Mar 15, 2023 at 20:44

He had to have his appendix out.

out is short for taken out, so its part-of-speech is verb, not adverb.

had to is an auxiliary modal verb expressing deontic necessity.

have is not an auxiliary verb as it often is (e.g. in I have eaten, have is an auxiliary verb forming the past perfect). In your sentence, have is the main verb and has this dictionary meaning:

2. experience or suffer the specified action happening or being done to (something).
"she had her bag stolen"

(Oxford Languages)

The action that is being done to his appendix is... taken out, shortened to out in your sentence.

take out is a phrasal verb. In take out, out is a particle because it can go either after take's direct object (take it out) or in-between the verb and its direct object (take out the gun). Being able to put a noun in-between a verb and a preposition while the verb phrase retains the same meaning proves that you are dealing with a phrasal verb, rather than a verb with a prepositional phrase argument (e.g. stand on the truck but not *stand the truck on).

  • Sorry but this is incorrect and misleading. 'Out' can be a particle, but not in this case. Particles can sometimes be disregarded. You couldn't say someone had their appendix taken. Taken where? You need an adverb of direction because you can take something in, and you can also take something out. For example, I took in your answer, and then I took out the trash.
    – Astralbee
    Mar 16, 2023 at 20:38
  • @Astralbee You are wrong. It is precisely because the particle cannot be omitted that they are phrasal verbs. E.g. he thought it over vs he thought it, clearly very different meanings (is the second even grammatical?)
    – minseong
    Mar 16, 2023 at 23:16
  • That's a very poor example of a particle. A better example is 'He ate it all up', which means the same as 'He ate it all', so you can often omit particles without changing the meaning. 'Up' in that context is not a directional adverb. But in the OP's example, 'out' most definitely is. The organ is coming out of their body, not being transplanted in.
    – Astralbee
    Mar 17, 2023 at 8:56
  • @Astralbee eat up and eat also have different meanings. eat up means eat all of something. Some more phrasal verbs: he chewed me out for being late, he chewed me for being late, let's wrap it up, let's wrap it, we singled out the worst performers, we singled the worst performers, I'll come to pick you up at 7, I'll come to pick you at 7, don't bring that up, don't bring that, she turned the job down, she turned the job
    – minseong
    Mar 17, 2023 at 13:58
  • @Astralbee have you read e.g. the wikipedia article on phrasal verbs? Where are your ideas coming from?
    – minseong
    Mar 17, 2023 at 13:59

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