What's the function of "up" and "down" in mentioned examples?

  1. We walked up the hill to the house.

  2. Be careful, don't fall down the stair.

Preposition or adverb?

  • 2
    Hello Kaveh. Are you studying English, or Linguistics? That is, is your goal to understand and communicate effectively. Or are you more interested in the theoretical study of language? Remember ell.stackexchange.com/questions/338838/… Modern grammars may not give you the answers that an elementary text book requires.
    – James K
    Commented Jul 18, 2023 at 6:22
  • Both required, And English is not separate from Linguistics, even though they have made it into two separate fields in the university. Commented Jul 18, 2023 at 10:44
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    I think in "walk up/down the stair" they would be considered prepositions by most people, with "up/down the stair" a prepositional phrase modifying "walk", but in "walk down/up" without a noun afterwards it is more questionable. (I'm willing to be corrected though.) It does appear that the question is different from the title, for this reason.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jul 18, 2023 at 12:01
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    I would argue that they are different. My sister speaks perfect English (in fact she's a professional writer) but she doesn't know much formal grammar. She certainly couldn't answer this question because I doubt she knows that prepositions exist.
    – James K
    Commented Jul 18, 2023 at 15:20

1 Answer 1


"up" and "down" are prepositions. They head the prepositional phrases "up the hill" and "down the stairs" respectively. They give the direction and location of the walk/fall. (Note that idiomatically the word "stairs" should be plural).

  • +1 And to add that the whole prepositional phrase is an adverbial modifying "walk" or "fall".
    – gotube
    Commented Jul 19, 2023 at 2:28

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