He fell straight off (from) the ledge (right) in/to/into the pool.

Falling in/into the (swimming) pool doesn't seem to rely on any phrasal verb or idiom that I can see. Falling from something is not breaking apart and falling down inward i.e. to fall in (phrasal verb, like a roof collapsing), or is it (without being able to tell apart phrasal based from simple construction in the output, I still note things falling in the pool are on rise since the 60's; even he, but not she)? I understand that falling can be used with many prepositions, that this might be depending on a choice of register or the nature of what someone is falling from. The verb to fall is often used with down or over says Merriam Learners. As for straight off, it's an adverbial construction meaning immediately.

A recipe for disaster. The context is that there is that terrace or platform with no ramp over the pool and what happened happened. I'm not sure if I need to use from with ledge here as straight off feels like it already "contains" that idea of origin. Later in the sentence, I'm confused as well, feeling that if I use the word right then it's casual to follow that up with into (right into sth., directly). Without using right, if I used from earlier on (straight off from), then to the pool now sounds valid because I'm thinking in terms of from something to something else (as in from left to right). With some experience I know that if I have to ask such questions, that's a telltale sign I've mangled this sentence by postponing some preposition that was part of a phrasal verb, or by using the wrong preposition altogether early on in the sentence.


  • What "path" should I follow, is to fall off the phrasal verb I needed here (He fell off straight from the ledge right into the pool)?
  • Can you both fall right off and fall straight into the pool at once (He fell (right) off the ledge straight into the pool)?
  • Usually there are no intermediate states to falling down so is straight off an adverb here or some sort of intensifier (strongly, abruptly) I misused; is right off better suited for that (do you fall right off or straight off something)?
  • Any hint on handling this situation where adverbs and prepositions seem to "converge" on the same position in the sentence, or where you feel like you have a bunch of "loose" prepositions all over the place interacting with one another and no phrasal verb?

1 Answer 1


Prepositions don't have to be part of a phrasal verb, in fact I would say most aren't. In this case, none of the prepositions have any special relation to the verb. They're all literal descriptors of the positions the subject goes through during the action.

Try to break up the sentence into the smallest chunks that make sense. Here: He fell. Yeah, that makes sense, that's true. Okay, where did he fall? Into the pool. What did he fall off of? He fell off the ledge. So now, put it together.

He fell off the ledge and into the pool.

You can leave out the "and" here, but it's still there for grammatical purposes. You can tell if you use three prepositions:

He fell off the ledge, through the air, and into the pool.

You can't leave out the "and" here, there's no way to use three prepositions without the conjunction. That means that there's no way to do it with two, either, and the "and" is still there, it's just not spoken.

Right and straight are both intensifiers, and don't really make sense to me here. There's not exactly an indirect way to fall off a ledge and into a pool.

I hope this helps.

Edit: A note to help distinguish between phrasal verbs and normal prepositional adverb phrases: phrasal verbs don't accept objects of the preposition, and they don't pair with prepositions in conjunction phrases.

The roof fell in. good
The roof fell in the house. not good
The roof fell in and onto the ground. not good
The roof fell in onto the ground. good

Does that help you see the difference a little better?

  • Thank you that was very insightful! It took me a minute to come to terms with what you explain in your note but I got it! It seems I also confused intensifiers with a means of making the sentence more "colorful" or "exclamatory"...
    – user16335
    Commented Jan 10, 2016 at 8:18
  • I agree that into is probably the best preposition to use, but I think in could work, too. Interesting ngram, FWIW.
    – J.R.
    Commented Jan 10, 2016 at 10:56
  • @J.R. I included 3 ngrams in the Q (around 60's); any idea why with "in" might be on the rise, except when fall is used with the pronoun "she"? Or is that just there are more neutral (masculine) objects and pools since the 60's? Thanks!
    – user16335
    Commented Jan 10, 2016 at 17:48
  • 1
    @Legomononc'bléd'Ingres - I believe what you see in that ngram is a rise in the word pool, not a rise in the preposition in. I wonder if swimming pools are becoming more common? Interesting ngram about pools.
    – J.R.
    Commented Jan 10, 2016 at 20:30

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