This is from a news article.

Consumer prices were up 4.2 percent in March from a year earlier, according to the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation, the Personal Consumption Expenditures index, the Commerce Department said Friday.

I looked up 'up' in the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

adverb 3d. : to or at a greater speed, rate, or amount

adjective 2b : being above a former or normal level (as of quantity or intensity)

I think here 'up' might be an adverb if 'were' is an intransitive complete verb and an adjective if 'were', a linking verb.

I wonder what part of speech 'up' is in the above quote.

  • 1
    "Up" is a preposition in your example.
    – BillJ
    May 2, 2023 at 7:00
  • @BillJ Thank you very much.
    – user157844
    May 2, 2023 at 7:09

1 Answer 1


Here, "up" describes the noun "prices", so it's an adjective meaning "higher".

Further, without the phrase "4.2 percent" the meaning of "up" doesn't change, so it appears "4.2 percent" is an adverbial phrase modifying the degree to which the prices are "up", perhaps with an elided "by".

  • Thank you very much.
    – user157844
    May 2, 2023 at 7:06
  • 1
    I appreciate the checkmark, but BillJ knows a lot and he commented that it's a preposition, so it's worth waiting to see if his argument is more convincing than mine.
    – gotube
    May 2, 2023 at 7:09
  • As far as I know, an adverb can modify other adverbs. So is there any possibility that an adverbial phrase '(by) 4.2 percent' is modifying an adverb 'up' which means 'at a greater amount'?
    – user157844
    May 2, 2023 at 7:31
  • 1
    An adverb can modify adjectives, verb, other adverbs, and entire clauses. In this case, "up" cannot be an adverb because it modifies a noun, so it's an adjective. It's only an adverb if you argue it modifies the verb "were", which makes no sense to me as "were" is a copula here.
    – gotube
    May 2, 2023 at 15:27
  • 1
    Exactly. In "Prices went up", the word "up" is modifying how the prices went, which means it's modifying a verb, so it's an adverb.
    – gotube
    May 3, 2023 at 3:41

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