I know that adverbs modify adjectives, verbs and other adverbs but, this usage of the "above" as adverb is so different from the definiton of the adverb in english.

the clouds above

except as stated above

10 degrees above

The dictionary page ı took my examples: Link

  • In modern grammar, "above" is classed as a preposition.
    – BillJ
    Sep 8, 2023 at 16:50
  • @BillJ Even if it is, it is still confusing because the preposition is at the end Sep 8, 2023 at 16:56
  • Prepositions frequently occur a the end of a clause., for example, "That depends on who I give it to"./ "What did you hit me for?"
    – BillJ
    Sep 8, 2023 at 17:01
  • above can be a preposition OR an adverb. See Merriam Webster. 10 degrees above [zero]. Yes, a preposition. And Cambridge: dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/above
    – Lambie
    Sep 8, 2023 at 17:24
  • What is your question? Sep 8, 2023 at 20:44

1 Answer 1


Modern grammar classifies "above" as a preposition.

One reason is that it occurs where PPs typically occur:


This goes in the closet. ~ This goes above.

Put it underneath the sink. ~ Put it above.

In the room, there was nothing. ~ Above, there was nothing.

I want it right underneath. ~ I want it right above.

Those examples show that there are strong reasons for saying that "above" belongs to the class of prepositions, not the class of adverb (or adjective).

  • And to be clear, in this modern understanding, prepositions need not have what classically would be called objects (Above what?). That explains why the road ahead is fine while something like *the road to isn’t. Sep 8, 2023 at 17:37
  • @PaulTanenbaum It impoverishes English to claim all aboves are prepositions. What does one gain from that? And most dictionaries disagree with this anyway.
    – Lambie
    Sep 8, 2023 at 17:56
  • @Lambie Sometimes ı feel like understanding is enough, dont try to define it. :D Sep 8, 2023 at 18:07
  • @Lambie, don’t shoot the messenger. I will say that there are very strong arguments to the effect that the traditional approach is woefully inadequate. For a presentation of some of these arguments—and a harsh critique of most dictionaries in this regard—see a paper by Pullum to which I was recently turned on over at English Language & Usage SE. Sep 8, 2023 at 19:07
  • @PaulTanenbaum I try and stay away from Pullum. A mere reading of the dict. entries shows the adverb and prep. work differently.
    – Lambie
    Sep 8, 2023 at 20:11

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