Preposition or Adverb? Exercise (168)

The same word may be a preposition or an adverb, depending upon how it is used in a sentence. Each of the following sentences contains a word in boldface that may be used as either a preposition or an adverb. Decide which is which.

  • Go outside if you want to play with your skateboard!

  • The burglar fell down the stairs when the home-owner shouted.

  • I could have sworn that I’d seen the man before, but I couldn’t place him.

  • All the children who failed to finish their work must stay inside during recess.

  • The flight attendant looked down the aisle to see if any passengers were standing.

Answers and Explanations

Remember that the preposition has an object; the adverb has none. For example:

The monkey chased the weasel around the mulberry bush. (preposition governing "the mulberry bush")

Released from its cage, the monkey ran around. (adverb)

1. Go outside if you want to play with your skateboard!

Correct: adverb
Outside is an adverb telling "where"; it modifies the verb "go."

2. The burglar fell down the stairs when the home-owner shouted.

Correct: preposition
Down is a preposition governing "the stairs."

3. I could have sworn that I’d seen the man before, but I couldn’t place him.

Correct: adverb
Before is an adverb telling "when"; it modifies the verb "had seen."

4. All the children who failed to finish their work must stay inside during recess.

Correct: adverb
Inside is an adverb telling "where"; it modifies the verb "must stay."

5. The flight attendant looked down the aisle to see if any passengers were standing.

Correct: preposition
Down is a preposition governing "the aisle."

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