above - the moon was above - part of speech?


Senior Member
Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
"The moon was above, lustrous and serene."

Hello,I ask the above sentence before I am here,my Chinese teacher told me the word "above" here works as the adjective,I am not sure then I looked it up on my dictionary,when "above" work as an adj,there is only one meaning"said, mentioned, or written above; foregoing".

But obviously,if here it doesn't work,in my sentence, "above" is not in an article or essay.

So who can tell me whether the sentence is right or not?

  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    I was standing on a hill. The moon was above, the sea was below.

    It's correct... but I'm not getting into parts of speech. :) The Compact Oxford notes that above is a preposition and an adverb. Perhaps it would make better grammatical sense to think: The moon was above (me). I seem to recall something about adverbs being used to place things, in this case spatially.


    Senior Member
    Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
    I guess the sentence is wrong, if "above" used as an adverb or preposition here, it should follow something just like Mr.Copy mentioned, like "The moon was above me."

    Harry Batt

    Senior Member
    USA English
    The sentence does not fail because you have not indicated what follows. As Copyright says, it makes better grammar to think that the moon was above me. You are after no more than acceptable grammar and the study of the English language does not require that you carry around a dictionary together with a briefcase stuffed full of grammar rules in order to convey your English language thoughts. As written the sentence implies to me that the moon was above me.


    New Member
    English - UK
    Classical analysis of the <<part of speech>> of above here fails.

    How can it be an adjective? There's no noun in the sentence it can be modifying.
    How can it be a classical preposition? It heads no noun group.
    How can it be an adverb, unless we extend their coverage to the verb be?

    A neat trick (that admittedly makes some sense) is to claim that we are dealing with an ellipsis here.

    But of

    The moon was shining above. (adverb of location)


    The moon was above the mountains (me sounds silly but is more convincing). (preposition)

    The next question is whether we should shoehorn words into those <<parts of speech>> they would be members of if we've guessed the unellipted version correctly.

    I'd just call 'above' here a locative particle.
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    English - England
    In "Transformational Grammar" by Andrew Radford 1995 pp60-63, Radford discusses distributional criteria in determining the function of a word and, of prepositions, writes:
    As for the distributional properties of prepositions, well, they alone can be premodified (i.e. modified and preceded) by right in the sense of 'completely'.

    (30)(a) Go right up the ladder
    (g)He fell right off the ledge.

    By contrast, other categories cannot be intensified by right in standard1 varieties of English:
    There follow examples for verbs, modals, adjectives, adverbs and determiners, (but, strangely, not nouns which it is obviously not possible to premodify in this way.)

    This puts "above" in "The moon is above" as a preposition and would also cover "up, down, below, etc."

    1 He specifically excludes varieties of English in which "She is right pretty" and "She looked at him right strangely" are acceptable.
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