"nearby" (close by) as an adjective, a preposition, or an adverb

7

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Would you show me if there could be any potential difference semantically between the two?

Please, would you possibly take into account the bounds of possibility that the word "nearby" in the following could be an adjective, or even an adverb:

  1. I live in a nearby town.
  2. I live in a town nearby.

Furthermore, what is the difference between these following pairs semantically, being distinguish between adjective, preposition or even an adverb.

First pair:

A) I sometimes meet friends in a nearby restaurant.

B) I sometimes meet friends in a restaurant nearby.

Second pair:

C) I ran to the telephone box nearby to call an ambulance.

D) I ran to the nearby telephone box to call an ambulance.


UPDATED:

  • First off, thanks all for your invaluable concerns as to problems. However, my most problem is about discerning between being an adjective or an adverb, not comparing them just as an adjective.

  • Second, my more specific problem is that if we distinct them as once an adjective and next an adverb what different meaning could be caused? (Such as the sentences above.)

UPDATED:And, would this one be incorrect?I hope to visit you in your near home. [near cannot be used before a noun to refer to distance] ........

........................

Edited: This part of answer has been prosed by one of the dear members, However, I failed to get it. Could you tell me more about it in a more readily way?

SEMANTICS:: the relationship of "nearness()"

Many locational prepositions have an associated semantic relationship that takes two arguments. Usually both arguments can be locations, or one is a location and the other is a situation. For instance:

The tree is near/nearby the river. In that above example, there is the relationship of "nearness()" that involves the two arguments "the tree" and "the river". That is:

nearness( the tree, the river ) <-- semantic relation Many times one of the arguments can be covert (that is, implied or understood from context). E.g.

Go near/nearby the river.

nearness( ("you":implied), the river )

and,

The tree is near/nearby the river. nearness( the tree, ("the river":implied) ) and,

The tree is near/nearby where we are. nearness( the tree, ("where we are":implied) ) For an example where one argument can be a situation:

Tom killed a bird near/nearby the river.

nearness( Tom killed a bird, the river )

where the first argument is the situation describe by "Tom killed a bird".

nima

Posted 2015-03-24T14:11:57.253

Reputation: 5 551

Should your second one be "live" too? – Catija – 2015-03-24T15:32:42.863

2A), adjective (or preposition, if you accept H&P's reasoning). Functioning as a modifier in a noun phrase. Cannot be modified by right. B) Preposition (adverbs generally cannot post-modify nouns). C) Preposition, same answer as for B. Example D), same as example A. – Araucaria - Not here any more. – 2015-03-27T14:29:50.217

1my personal recommendation - don't use 'nearby' as a preposition. It's either adverb or adjective. Learner's dictionary backs my statement. I updated my answer. Have a look and you decide! – Maulik V – 2015-03-28T04:13:35.487

If you're of the persuasion that the word "nearby" could sometimes be an adjective (or at least seems to be functioning in an adjective-y way), then perhaps there might, for some sentences, be a difference in meaning between the two general constructions as used in your two examples. Consider the level of acceptability for: "I went to a nearby mountain to collect rocks" vs _"I went to a mountain nearby to collect rocks". :) – F.E. – 2015-03-30T18:17:34.980

Nima, yes, we can't use near in this sentence - *I ran to the near telephone box to call an ambulance.* In most cases the adjective near when it means distance, don't come before a noun. But with some nouns adjective near does come before it, e.g. near distance, near future, near neighbour etc. Unfortunately I can't explain you the grammatical reason, if it has one. Nor does I know how to decide with which nouns near can come before it :-( – Man_From_India – 2015-03-31T13:50:48.583

1It would be helpful for readers if you could select the answer you gave the bounty to as the main answer. If you do this it will rise to the top of the answers and more readers will read this very useful answer post! – Araucaria - Not here any more. – 2015-04-03T13:15:15.537

Answers

-1

Your (1) and (2) would function the same most of the time. But if I try, I think I can imagine a context where they would mean slightly different things.

(1) I'm telling someone an anecdote, about something that happened to me. I'm far from home when I tell this story. Let's say the story starts out in a town not far from my own -- let's call it Jackson. At a certain point in my story, the listener needs to know that the town where I live isn't far from Jackson. Maybe there's going to be a dramatic car ride to go pick up some item that is urgently needed in time for a concert that's going to start shortly. Let's say the item was in a suitcase that the airlines have misplaced. To explain that my town isn't far from Jackson, I say, "I live in a nearby town. So I jumped in my car and drove home as fast as I could. I grabbed my copy of the score of Beethoven's Fifth and raced back to the concert hall in Jackson, arriving just as the orchestra was tuning."

(2) Note that this sentence wouldn't work in the story about the dramatic car ride.

Moving on. In (A), "nearby" is describing "restaurant;" since "restaurant" is a noun, "nearby" functions as an adjective in this sentence. In (B), "nearby" tells us where you live. Therefore it functions as an adverb in this sentence.

(C): adverb; (D): adjective; same analysis as for (A) and (B).

To get better at distinguishing between adjectives and adverbs, I recommend that you start by practicing with simple sentences. Use a different symbol to indicate each one -- for example, circle the adjectives, and underline the adverbs. You could even use different colors. BUT before you do that, you should get completely solid on identifying NOUNS and VERBS. When you can do that comfortably and easily, the adjectives and adverbs will jump off the page at you, for the most part.

Do you have a teacher who can check your exercises?

aparente001

Posted 2015-03-24T14:11:57.253

Reputation: 1 617

5

QUESTION: The word "nearby", is it an adjective, a preposition, or an adverb?

Consider the following three examples (where the first two are somewhat similar to the OP's examples):

  1. [A nearby house] was for sale.

  2. [A house nearby] was for sale.

  3. A house was [nearby], and it was for sale.

Let's look at the possibility that all three examples are using a preposition "nearby".

Actually, this is the position that I will be supporting in this answer post--that the word "nearby" in the three above examples (and also in your first two examples and in the rest of your examples) are prepositions.

CAVEAT: This is only an argumentation. It does not mean that this argumentation is "correct"; and it doesn't mean that other reasonable argumentations which differ from my position cannot be made.



Argumentation:: "Nearby" is a preposition

First, I'll present some stuff about the semantics of the word "nearby" (as used in all the examples, mine and the OPs), and try to show that the semantics are associated with a relationship that is very similar to those of locative prepositions.

Second, I'll present some syntactic tests to try to show that the word "nearby" as used in examples #1 and #2 is an internal dependent of a noun phrase (NP); and that it is a locative complement in clause structure in example #3.


SEMANTICS:: the relationship of "nearby()"

Many locational prepositions have an associated semantic relationship that takes two arguments. Usually both arguments can be locations, or one is a location and the other is a situation. For instance:

  • The tree is near/nearby the river.

In that above example, there is the relationship of "nearby()" that involves the two arguments "the tree" and "the river". That is:

  • nearby( the tree, the river ) <-- semantic relationship

This relationship nearby() is associated with the meaning of the words "nearness" and "near" and "nearby", which is the meaning that two things are near each other.

Many times one of the arguments of nearby() can be covert (that is, implied or understood from context). For examples of this:

  • A.1. "Go near/nearby the river."
  • A.2. nearby( "you":implied, the river )

and,

  • B.1. "The tree is near/nearby the river."
  • B.2. nearby( the tree, "the river":implied )

and,

  • C.1. "The tree is near/nearby where we are."
  • C.2. nearby( the tree, "where we are":implied )

In examples #A-C, one of the arguments is not explicitly expressed in the example sentences.

For an example where one argument can be a situation:

  • D.1. "Tom killed a bird near/nearby the river."
  • D.2. nearby( Tom killed a bird, the river )

where the first argument is the situation describe by "Tom killed a bird".

(ASIDE: For more info on this sort of topic, please see Araucaria's answer post.)


Now, as for adjectives, in general they have an associated property type of relationship that has just one argument, where that argument is something that can have that property. Often, that something can also function as a predicand. For example:

  • the [tall] boy

  • The boy is [tall].

For both, there is the relationship "tall()":

  • tall( boy )

where the "boy" is that something that has the property of "tall" (tallness).

But the relationship nearby() doesn't take just one argument. And so, that is another reason for the unlikelihood of the word "nearby" as being an adjective.


In other words:

Think of the semantic relationship "nearby()" as basically involving two things that are near or nearby to each other. You need two things. For example, if you are near a tree, then two things are near each other: "you" and "the tree". That gives nearby(you, tree). Notice that you can't have nearness ("near" or "nearby") with just one thing, for that wouldn't make any sense at all. (Except when one thing is a thing and the other a situation, as already shown above.)

So this relationship associated with the word "nearby" takes two arguments: nearby(x,y). One thing is near another thing -- that necessarily involves two things, thus two arguments. Though, one of the arguments might not be explicitly mentioned. For example: "the tree is nearby". In this example, one thing is "the tree" and the 2nd thing is understood by context, and so the 2nd thing could be the speaker or some other point of reference.

It is common for many prepositions to be associated with two arguments like this. Think of other prepositions like: on, in, off, out, above, under, etc. The preposition indicates the relationship between two things, e.g. "on" means that one thing is on another thing, "off" means that one thing is off another thing, etc.

Now let's look at the adjective tall(). It takes only one argument. One thing has [the property of] tallness. E.g. "Tom is tall" and "the tall boy", each of them is represented by tall(Tom/the boy) with only one argument. There is no other 2nd thing: neither explicitly given nor implicitly understood. It is common for adjectives to be associated with exactly one argument like this.

Now compare that to "the tree is nearby" and "the nearby tree". Both of them actually have two arguments for nearby() because there are two things involved in this relationship: one thing is "the tree" and the other thing is some understood reference point (the speaker or something), because you need two things for "near" or "nearby" to make sense.

Conclusion: We consider "tall" to be an adjective in both "Tom is tall" and "the tall boy". Part of that reason is that tall() is a relationship that takes one argument. Note that in "Tom is tall", we do not consider "tall" to be an adverb -- it is still an adjective. Correspondingly, for "the tree is nearby" and "the nearby tree", for both of them the word "nearby" has the relationship nearby() which takes two arguments, and so, it seems reasonable to consider both occurrences of the word "nearby" to be prepositions. (And, for similar reasons, it seems reasonable to consider the word "nearby" in "the tree nearby" to also be a preposition.)


SYNTAX:: Some constituency tests:: Clefts

Identifying constituents is often an important, or a necessary, step in making an argumentation. Cleft constructions, such as it-clefts and pseudo-clefts, can often be helpful in identifying constituents. In general, an element of the original clause is foregrounded in the cleft versions; and if that element can be successfully foregrounded, then that is evidence that that element is a constituent.

To support the preposition argument, I will make attempts to show that the expressions within the brackets ("[xx]") in the following three examples are (via tests) constituents:

  • 1.a. [A nearby house] was for sale. <-- original #1

  • 2.a. [A house nearby] was for sale. <-- original #2

  • 3.a. A house was [nearby]. <-- first main clause in the original #3

For #1.a and #2.a, the expressions "a nearby house" and "a house nearby" would be considered to be subject NPs--thus, a constituent--for those two examples respectively. For #3.a, the expression "nearby" would be considered to be a constituent by itself.

The constituent test for #2.a is quite important here, because if it is shown that the expression "a house nearby" is a constituent--an NP--then that could weaken the argument that the word "nearby" within that expression "a house nearby" is an adverb.

[ASIDE: Note that relatively rarely does an adverb function as a post-head dependent of a noun or nominal (though they do exist, e.g. "the people were upset by the arrival recently of a tiger"). Though, an adverb does often function as an external modifier in an NP, e.g. "the car alone", or else as an element that is embedded inside a phrase that is itself a dependent of the NP.]

To show how unlikely it is that the word "nearby" in #2.a could be an adverb, let's add stuff after it:

  • [ A house [nearby] [that Tom could afford] ] was for sale.

Notice that the relative clause "that Tom could afford" is an internal dependent of the subject NP that is headed by the noun "house". And that big subject NP is a constituent, as can be seen via a cleft:

  • It was [ a house [nearby] [that Tom could afford] ] that was for sale.

and it is structured similar to:

  • It was [ a house [near the park] [that Tom could afford] ] that was for sale.

which uses the PP "near the park" instead of the PP "nearby".

[ASIDE: Though, it seems that, in this discussion of these last three examples that were just given, it probably doesn't necessarily rule out the possibility of interpreting the word "nearby" as being an adverb in them.]


Example #1:

Clefts can be used to try to show that the expression "a nearby house" is a constituent in #1.a.

  • 1.a. A nearby house was for sale. <-- original

  • 1.b. It was a nearby house [that was for sale]. <-- it-cleft

  • 1.c. [What was for sale] was a nearby house. <-- pseudo-cleft

  • 1.d. A nearby house was [what was for sale]. <-- reversed pseudo-cleft


Example #2:

Clefts can be used to try to show that the expression "a house nearby" is a constituent in #2.a.

  • 2.a. A house nearby was for sale. <-- original

  • 2.b. It was a house nearby [that was for sale]. <-- it-cleft

  • 2.c. [What was for sale] was a house nearby. <-- pseudo-cleft

  • 2.d. A house nearby was [what was for sale]. <-- reversed pseudo-cleft

In #2.b, the NP "a house nearby" is foregrounded. This shows that the word "nearby" is a post-head dependent within the NP. That is, the word "nearby" is part of that NP.


Let's also try to show this (that the word "nearby" is part of the NP) when the constituent isn't the subject. For instance:

  • n.a. They bought a house nearby.

  • n.b. It was a house nearby [that they bought]. <-- it-cleft

  • n.c. [What they bought] was a house nearby. <-- pseudo-cleft

  • n.d. A house nearby was [what they bought]. <-- reversed pseudo-cleft

Those above examples, again, show that the word "nearby" is part of the NP constituent "a house nearby".


Let's try to show that the word "nearby" is part of a constituent NP in the OP's #2 example:

  • OP.2a. I live in a town nearby. <-- OP's #2 example

it-clefts:

  • OP.2b. It is [in a town nearby] that I live. <-- PP constituent

  • OP.2c. It is [a town nearby] that I live in. <-- NP constituent

  • OP.2d. * It is [nearby] that I live in a town. <-- ungrammatical.

pseudo-clefts:

  • OP.2e What/Where I live is [in a town nearby]. <-- PP constituent

  • OP.2f What/Where I live in is [a town nearby]. <-- NP constituent

  • OP.2b * What/Where I live in a town is [nearby]. <-- ungrammatical.


ASIDE: Notice that the word "nearby" cannot be replaced by "near" in the OP's #2 example:

  • * I live in a town near. <-- ungrammatical

ASIDE: If the word "nearby" was an adjective in the OP's #2 example, then because it is a postpositive modifier (i.e. post-head modifier), it would sometimes have a slightly different meaning when compared to the attributive use of the word "nearby". (Supposedly, according to some linguists.) That is:

  • OP.1a. I live in a nearby town. <-- OP's #1 example ("ephemeral" or "permanent" property)

  • OP.2a. I live in a town nearby. <-- OP's #2 example ("ephemeral" property only)

This topic is discussed in the textbook SPE, page 392:

(7)

  • a. All navigable rivers are being patrolled.

  • a'. All rivers navigable are being patrolled.

  • b. Every available penny was put into their project.

  • b'. Every penny available was put into their project.

This, however, does not mean that we can simply make our eventual rule for the division of labor between prenominal and postnominal modifiers optional in the case of "simple" A's. As Bolinger (1967a) pointed out, when both word orders are possible (thus, excluding examples as in (3)), they differ in the meanings that they can express: postnominal modifiers can only express "ephemeral" properties, as in (7a'), which refers to those rivers that happen at the moment to allow navigation (thus, perhaps excluding some rivers that normally allow navigation but at present are blocked by ice, and including some rivers that normally do not accommodate ships but happen to be usable at the moment by ships because of an abnormally high water level), (fn 8) while prenominal modifiers can express not only ephemeral but also "permanent" properties, as in (7a), which can refer to the rivers that normally allow navigation.

Accordingly, simple A's that refer to permanent properties are restricted to prenominal positions:

(8)

  • a. an even number

  • b. a very tall man

  • a'. * a number even <-- (ungrammatical)

  • b'. * a man very tall <-- (ungrammatical)


Example #3:

Clefts can be used to try to show that the expression "nearby" is a constituent in #3.a.

  • 3.a. A house was [nearby]. <-- first main clause in the original #3

  • 3.b. It was nearby [that a house was]. <-- it-cleft (ungrammatical?)

  • 3.c. [What/Where a house was] was nearby. <-- pseudo-cleft (dubious?)

  • 3.d. Nearby was [what a house was]. <-- reversed pseudo-cleft (ungrammatical?)

This section doesn't seem to be of much use in trying to determine the category of the word "nearby".

Prepositions and adverbs and adjectives can often, or sometimes, be foregrounded by an it-cleft:

  • It's [downstairs] they want to play. <-- preposition

  • It isn't [often] they're as late as this. <-- adverb

  • It wasn't [green] I told you to paint it. <-- adjective

The above three examples were borrowed from CGEL pages 1418-9.

Note: The textbook SPE might have some related info as to the difficulty that is seen in this section (w.r.t. example #3) on pages 64-5.


MORE SYNTAX::

There are prepositions that function as attributive modifier or as postpositive modifier.

For attributive modifiers, there's CGEL page 444:

A few prepositions are also found (as attributive modifiers), as in the [downstairs] toilet.

For post-head modifiers, there's CGEL page 446:

(d) PPs

[14]

  • i. . . .

  • ii. the temperature [outside], the floor [below], the year [before]

  • iii. . . .

A very great range of PPs can function as post-head modifier. Those in [i ] illustrate the most frequent pattern, with the preposition having an NP as complement. In the last example, with as, the oblique NP is interpreted predicatively: Jill was a journalist. We also find prepositions without complements, generally locative or temporal, as in [ii ]; and in [iii ] the prepositions have clauses as complement.


Also, there is CGEL, page 683:

Realisation

Most location dependents have the form of a PP. A sample of prepositions (and prepositional idioms) heading such phrases is given in:

[16]

  • i. abroad downhill downstairs here hereabouts home indoors nearby overseas there where

  • ii. . . .

  • iii. . . .

The items in [i ] occur without complements in the PP: He lives abroad; Nearby, some children were playing cricket.

The above excerpt shows CGEL's opinion on the preposition "nearby".

But I tend to differ with them on this point: the point is that I also think the preposition "nearby" can also occur with complements. For instance: We checked into a hotel [nearby the station]; He went fishing in the creek [nearby the grocery store].

There is also the supporting evidence of "nearby" as a PP with complement in the online Oxford English Dictionary (OED), 2015, in their entry on "nearby" as a preposition. A related excerpt from that OED is provided elsewhere in this thread via a deleted post and someone else's answer post.


NOTE: The word "nearby" could probably be seen as being a type of compound preposition, where it's seen as being related to a combination of the two prepositions "near" and "by". This is similar to some other prepositions, such as: "onto" with "on" and "to", "into" with "in" and "to", "upon" with "up" and "on".


REFERENCES::


CGEL: The 2002 CGEL is the 2002 reference grammar by Huddleston and Pullum (et al.), The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. Some of the related pages are:

  • pages 331 [10], 455 [17-8]
  • pages 444-7 [9, 11-5]
  • pages 624-6 [20-2]
  • pages 683 [16]
  • pages 1418-9 [11-7], 1421-2 [22-9]

SPE: This is a textbook by James D. McCawley, The Syntactic Phenomena of English, 2nd edition, paperback 1998. Some of the related pages are:

  • pages 392 #7
  • pages 64-7 #20-9

F.E.

Posted 2015-03-24T14:11:57.253

Reputation: 5 118

1+1 Long weekend, so was going to have a go at fixing my post according to you recs, but now I don't have to! Nice post!! – Araucaria - Not here any more. – 2015-04-03T14:07:53.097

1For more evidence, there's the adjectives like "asleep" and "awake" and their ilk (CGEL page 559 [17]). These are adjectives that have historically come from PPs; and today these adjectives usually don't function attributively (they often function predicatively or postpositively). Their difficulty in being used attributively could be due to their being historically coming from full PPs. (cont.) – F.E. – 2015-04-05T18:15:12.677

1(cont.) Note that "The boy is [asleep]" is similar in meaning to "The boy is [in the state of sleep]", and so, the adjective relationship asleep(boy) corresponds to the PP relationship in(boy,the-state-of-sleep). In other words, the adjective "asleep" is short for the adjective "in-the-state-of-sleep". That is, one of the PP's arguments is now part of the adjective word, and that is why it is possible for the equivalent adjective to have only one argument (which is the PP's 2nd arg). – F.E. – 2015-04-05T18:15:17.223

3

  1. I live in a nearby town.

  2. I love in a town nearby.

In my grammar nearby is an adjective in (1) and a preposition in (2). With prepositions like nearby we are usually thinking about a relation between two things or places. With the preposition nearby one of these things is often here, this place. So in sentence (2), nearby means nearby to here. However, with the preposition nearby we can sometime use a different place to orient ourselves, not here. So the following sentence is perfectly fine:

  • Nearby the station, there's a greengrocer's.

Notice however that we cannot do this with the adjective:

  • I live in a nearby the motorway town.

Semantically, the adjective nearby always relates a thing or action to here, or a place we are already thinking about. To make the sentence above grammatical we would have to say:

  • I live in a town near(by) the motorway.

Some speakers don't like to use nearby with a following noun when the prepositional phrase modifies another noun. These speakers would prefer to use near in this situation.

The other big difference between the adjective nearby and the preposition nearby is that we can modify the preposition nearby with the special adverb right. We cannot use right with the adjective.

  • *I live in a right nearby town. (ungrammatical)
  • I live in a town right nearby.

To sum up

The difference between nearby the adjective and nearby the preposition is mainly about grammar. There is one semantic difference though. We can use the preposition nearby to talk about something being close to another place or thing. The adjective nearby always talks about something being close to here or another place that we are already thinking about.

Araucaria - Not here any more.

Posted 2015-03-24T14:11:57.253

Reputation: 25 536

Thanks. Do, however, you think that is the related answer to the original question?? – nima – 2015-03-24T19:55:57.393

1@F.E. Hmm, actually I've always taken it as read that phrases like outdoor swimming pool have outdoor as an adjective, but now I'm wondering if nearby is just an unusual preposition that can pre-modify nouns within a nominal? What do you think – Araucaria - Not here any more. – 2015-03-25T00:15:32.510

1@nima Well, as far as I can see you ask about the semantic difference between the two - and there's only one small semantic difference, which is the one I outline in the post and in the conclusion. Is there anything else you wanted to know? – Araucaria - Not here any more. – 2015-03-25T00:32:52.660

1First off , thanks for your invaluable concerns as to problems. However, my most problem is about discerning between being an adjective or an adverb, as well as being a preposition- not comparing them just as an adjective or preposition. – nima – 2015-03-27T12:17:15.360

You are right, since I have no raised my question in a specific way. I am so sorry,, for this I had to update the problem. – nima – 2015-03-27T12:20:17.397

1@Nima, In modern grammars such as The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language or Oxford Modern English grammar or A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language, the word nearby is never an adverb - ever. It doesn't have any syntactic properties of adverbs, and has all the syntactic properties of prepositions. Research over the last fifty years has shown that there is no justification for calling prepositions prepositions when they come before a noun and calling them adverbs when there is no following noun ... – Araucaria - Not here any more. – 2015-03-27T14:23:58.793

1@nima When this word comes directly before a noun in a noun phrase, there is some justification for calling it an adjective. [However, CaGEL would say it is a preposition functioning as a modifier in a noun clause in such examples]. In old fashioned grammar, some people will call it an adverb when there is no following noun phrase, but when they do this it just means that they cannot predict anything about the grammar of this words any more ... – Araucaria - Not here any more. – 2015-03-27T14:26:32.817

Yes, my specific problem is here, Araucaria.. I mean that, for instance, if we put nearby at the end of a sentence or after an a noun, so, it could be considered both an adjective and an adverb. Therefore, what is the rule? what difference it could produce semantically? – nima – 2015-03-27T15:21:58.853

What are the difference in meaning when one has to distinguish between them as once an adjective, next an adverb??! – nima – 2015-03-27T15:24:03.810

Where is that troublemaker @Araucaria? I hope he is nearby. Hopefully nearby a computer terminal. :D -- Or is he fishing in that creek that's nearby his school? – F.E. – 2015-03-27T19:34:00.593

@Araucaria So what's the difference between an adjective and an attributive modifier? :D – F.E. – 2015-03-28T00:14:27.670

You favor 'nearby' as a preposition over 'near'? Really? – Maulik V – 2015-03-28T04:07:52.247

Maulik, I don't think @Araucaria prefers it, but he was trying to explain the parts of speech of nearby, in nearby the station, there was a commercial hub. I really appreciate his effort to expand the OP's question. – Man_From_India – 2015-03-28T04:23:16.290

Could you add some explicit parsing markers to help a poor reader for your example: "I live in a [ nearby the motorway ] town." -- perhaps something like that. It took me a while to figure out what you meant. :) -- (Aside: I'm now more persuaded that there is no adjective "nearby", but rather it is an attributive modifier use of the preposition "nearby"; this due to the strong argument/claim that it is not an adjective in "The town is nearby".) – F.E. – 2015-03-30T18:04:34.603

1"The other big difference between the adjective nearby and the preposition nearby is that we can modify the preposition nearby with the special adverb right. We cannot use right with the adjective." <== Might that argument be a bit misleading? For aren't other categories when functioning as attributive modifier also under some severe restrictions too? – F.E. – 2015-03-30T18:09:47.557

I would like to thank you heartily for your answer post, as it seems to provide a solid argumentation for supporting the position that "nearby" in attributive modifier function is a preposition, and that there is no need for an adjective. imo. :) -- Aside: Which might help explain your Freudian slip when you had earlier used "preposition nearby" in your last sentence of your answer post! (Your subconscious knew better.) – F.E. – 2015-03-31T07:15:38.313

3

Answer to OP -

  1. Would you show me if there could be any potential difference semantically between the two?

a) I live in a nearby town.

b) I live in a town nearby.

No there is no semantic difference between the two. Both of them mean the same thing, and grammatically correct sentence.

  1. Nearby - an adjective, an adverb or a preposition?

All major dictionaries say that nearby can be used both as an adverb as well as an adjective. We can also use nearby as a preposition.

Now examine your sentence whether nearby is an adjective or an adverb or a preposition -

c) I sometimes meet friends in a nearby restaurant.

There is no doubt that nearby here modifies the following noun - restaurant. And so it's an adjective here. The adjective nearby is an attributive adjective. We can't use the adjective nearby predicatively.

d) I sometimes meet friends in a restaurant nearby.

Here nearby is an adverb.

Let's expand the elliptical structure that is hidden in sentence #d

e) I sometimes meet friends in a restaurant (which is) nearby.

See here what nearby modifies? It modifies is. In a restaurant which is where? In a restaurant which is Nearby - an adverb.

Another way to explain nearby in that sentence

e) I sometimes meet friends in a restaurant (which is) nearby.

Here we can also say nearby is a preposition.

Consider this -

A church stands at (the bank of the river).

Here in that sentence preposition at indicates the position of the church. The complement of the preposition at is the bank of the river. In your sentence #e, the preposition nearby is also indicating position. Where does the restaurant exist? A short distance from here - nearby.

e) I sometimes meet friends in a restaurant (which exist) nearby (here).

After preposition nearby we don't need any complement, so in the original sentence here is omitted.

Other example sentences which OP quoted in his question can be analyzed in a similar way. I am sure he can do it after reading my answer. If not I will analyze it myself.


Confusion about whether to use "nearby" as a single word or to break it into two, and whether it can be used as a preposition -

Whether it should be written as a single word or two separate words is not very clear. I think we have a license to write it either way according to wish/style/preference etc.

But Fowler in Modern English Usage does say something about it. But I don't think it's widely accepted, as some dictionaries doesn't say anything along that line -

As an adjective, it should be written as one word (a nearby hotel), but as an adverb normally as two (at a hospital nearby).

From Wiktionary -

Some British writers make the distinction between the adverbial near by, which is written as two words; and the adjectival nearby, which is written as one. In American English, the one-word spelling is standard for both forms.

Why I think dictionaries allow both usage is because they list both single word version as well as two word version against that entry (nearby). And in example sentences they haven't used two separate words as suggested by Fowler.

From Collins Cobuild Dictionary -

enter image description here

From OED (Oxford English Dictionary -

enter image description here

As for whether "nearby" can be used as a preposition : -

Though most of the dictionaries, online and offline, don't list nearby as a preposition, modern grammar books like CGEL and dictionaries like OED consider nearby as a preposition. I think this a new addition.

enter image description here

Link to the screenshot if you need zooming.

Ref: "nearby, adv., prep., and adj." OED Online. Oxford University Press, March 2015. Web. 28 March 2015.

Notice how the usage of nearby evolves -

enter image description here

Source

The user states that nearby as a preposition is rare or dialectical. See the time when he made the claim. It's 2014. He referred to OED. And he found this at that time -

enter image description here

Not only did OED said it's rare or dialectical, Editors of MW dictionaries made similar claim. He went as far as saying that nearby as a preposition is impossible. Link

English Grammar Today from Cambridge made similar claim.

enter image description here

But nobody made any objection to that compound preposition when formed by taking two prepositions - near and by - together.

There is a house, near by the station, which is rumored to be haunted.

I live near by that fancy building.

These near by as shown in the example sentences above are just compound preposition. Similar compound preposition is from behind as in The sun rose from behind the cloud.

In early days (approximately till 1800) it was evident that nearby was widespread as a preposition, then that usage became rare. And whenever usage like He lived near by the railway station appeared, it was frowned upon, and was explained that it is the case of compound preposition -near by.

But usage changed again, and OED and other modern grammarians started to consider nearby as a preposition all over again. This is very recent.

Now it's time to draw the conclusion. So far till I came to know about the up-to-date OED's no objection about using nearby as a preposition, I was strictly against using it as a preposition, though even then I didn't mind using near and by together to form a compound preposition. Now that we have the info that nearby can be used as a preposition, I think there shouldn't be any problem using it that way. But still some people might find that usage not so good. For a learner, it's better to avoid such aspects of language. You write something that don't cause any problem to any audience. Even in journalism or in literature, the best practice is to avoid such areas of language which is accepted by some people and not by others. Here, as both are correct, the choice is yours. As far as explaining something is concerned, there might be more than one way. You pick up any one of them as long as they are correct which suites you best. You are also welcome to take them all :-)

Man_From_India

Posted 2015-03-24T14:11:57.253

Reputation: 10 615

"c) I sometimes meet friends in a nearby restaurant. There is no doubt that nearby here modifies the following noun - restaurant. And so it's an adjective here. The adjective nearby is an attributive adjective. We can't use nearby predicatively." <== Unfortunately, all you have proved in that example is that "nearby" is functioning as an attributive modifier in NP structure. It is true that many adjectives can and do realize that function, but so do other categories. Also, there are many adjectives that cannot be used predicatively; and there are many that can only be used predicatively. – F.E. – 2015-03-28T08:22:13.360

@F.E. So here comes another issue :-) another trouble maker :-( attributive modifier:-) Now I don't know how to distinguish an adjective from an attributive modifier. But I can provide evidence that say adjective nearby is not generally used predicatively. – Man_From_India – 2015-03-28T08:26:31.190

@F.E. wait wait. I doubt if it's ever called an attributive modifier. Though I don't have much knowledge about attributive modifier. All I knew is if a noun in NP acts as an adjective it is considered as an attributive modifier. If you can give some idea how it's being considered as an attributive modifier it would be nice :-) Anyway I wanted to show you the one word/double word issue and prepositional issue. All the evidence based on which I claimed. – Man_From_India – 2015-03-28T08:33:06.670

Attributive modifier is the function that you all are calling "adjective", where the adjective is slotted right before the noun: e.g. "old" in "The old man". Predicative complement (PC) is the function realized by the adjective in something like "The man is fat", where "fat" is an adjective. – F.E. – 2015-03-28T08:35:23.517

"But these usage of near by has nothing to do with the dictionary entry of nearby or near by. These near by as shown in the example sentences above are just compound preposition." <== Er, ain't "near by" the same thing as "near by"? :) – F.E. – 2015-03-28T08:38:38.383

:D true. And false. In dictionary entry a nearby is catogarised as an adjective and an adverb. It also says we can write it as near by or near-by. But in those example sentences those near by is two different words. Both are preposition. near and by. All I wanted to mean is near and by in those examples are different than nearby. I think you already got that :D – Man_From_India – 2015-03-28T08:42:37.537

Er, "adjective" is a category, not a function. Adjectives realize three main functions: attributive in NP structure, predicative (PC) in clause structure, and postpositive in NP structure. – F.E. – 2015-03-28T08:44:17.893

Er, your source that you have a link to, down there near the bottom of your answer post, which links to an EL&U thread, er, that there is unreliable info. If you're going to get into a grammatical discussion about today's standard English, you'll want to rely on authorities that are at least familiar with what is in the latest reference grammar, the 2002 CGEL; the authorities don't have to necessarily agree with CGEL's opinions, but they do need to be aware of them, and if they disagree with CGEL, then they need to have a reasonable argument to counter CGEL's opinions. (cont.) – F.E. – 2015-03-28T08:51:07.420

ASIDE: Your use of "attributive adjective" is fine, as we'll understand that as meaning "an adjective that is realizing the function of an attributive dependent in NP structure". Notice that this time I used "dependent" instead of "modifier" because I think that some attributive adjectives can function as complement (instead of modifier). – F.E. – 2015-03-28T08:54:30.413

They might be traditional. But I don't think they are at all wrong. I have not read CGEL thoroughly. I am sure whatever written in the comments under that ELU question is true. May be modern grammar presents it in a different way, I am not aware. That will be really an interesting discussion if you write how those comments are wrong using CGEL's or any modern grammars' explanation. :-) – Man_From_India – 2015-03-28T08:57:14.033

(cont.) CGEL page 683: "Realisation:: Most location dependents have the form of a PP. A sample of prepositions (and prepositional idioms) heading such phrases is given in : [16] i. abroadnearby … The items in [i ] occur without complements in the PP: He lives abroad; Nearby, some children were playing cricket." -- And so, CGEL considers "nearby" to be a preposition (in those uses). A grammarian could disagree, but they should have a decent argument to counter CGEL's argumentation. – F.E. – 2015-03-28T09:01:41.103

I appreciate CGEL, but here I personally think it adds more confusion. See Home marks location only as a subject-oriented complement: Are you home?, We stayed home, but not * I keep my computer home or * Home, the children were playing cricket. More concept more terminology, adds more confusion. Well may be it serves some other purpose, but here in this case as a not so knowledgeable person I surely think it does add too much confusion. But one interesting thing what is wrong with that traditional grammar's explanation? – Man_From_India – 2015-03-28T09:17:41.940

CGEL does say nearby is a preposition, and as locative dependents it has the form of a PP (prepositional phrase). And it doesn't take any complement. But then how it will be explained Nearby the station, there is commercial hub., considering the explanations from traditional grammar is wrong? – Man_From_India – 2015-03-28T09:22:17.553

2Hi Man_From_India, there's a problem with the OED quote you give. Namely, that it's not from the OED! The OED actually cites nearby as a preposition. It gives modern examples, and says nothing about it being dialectical at all :( I don't know where the information above came from?? EDIT: Maybe you've been swizzed by another post which deliberately took an out of date citation from an old version of the OED? – Araucaria - Not here any more. – 2015-03-28T11:20:03.707

I think my version of OED and tchrist's version is the same :-) [just noticed it on his comments in one ELU question I linked to] – Man_From_India – 2015-03-28T13:23:02.270

(cont.) You also have "d) I sometimes meet friends in a restaurant nearby. Here nearby is an adverb."; that claim of it being an adverb is now known to be a doubtful claim, as there are grammatical tests that can be used to help identify the category of a word. Also, you have "But Fowler in Modern English Usage does say something about it."; and you probably ought to let the reader know that the Fowler brothers were usage commentators, and were basically providing comments on style. -- EDIT: I just saw your comment, and so, I'll break off here. :) – F.E. – 2015-03-29T17:20:24.967

Decent modern grammar textbooks will provide some grammatical tests that can be used to help categorize words as to whether they are adjectives, adverbs, or prepositions. Those tests would probably be quite helpful for your answer post. The 2002 CGEL provides some of those tests. You'll probably come to find out that the word "nearby" is as much an adverb as a whale is a fish. :) – F.E. – 2015-03-29T17:24:36.650

"c) I sometimes meet friends in a nearby restaurant. There is no doubt that nearby here modifies the following noun - restaurant. And so it's an adjective here." <== But that would be a valid argument only if it was true that only adjectives could function as attributive modifier of a noun. Unfortunately, other categories than noun can also realize that function. – F.E. – 2015-03-30T18:26:04.987

"We can't use the adjective nearby predicatively. 'd) I sometimes meet friends in a restaurant nearby.' Here nearby is an adverb." <== But since you consider the word "nearby" to be an adjective in your "c" example, then why can't it be an adjective here too in your "d" example? (That is, an adjective that is occurring postpositively; e.g. *"every available penny"* vs *"every penny available"*.) – F.E. – 2015-03-30T18:30:41.833

*"We can't use the adjective nearby predicatively."* <== But why not? Since you accept that there is an adjective "nearby" (see your "c" example), then why can't that adjective "nearby" also be used predicatively, e.g. *"The house was nearby (adj)"*? (Consider the adjective "tall", as used in "the tall boy" and "the boy is tall", and so, why can't we consider that the adjective "nearby" is being used in the same ways?) – F.E. – 2015-03-30T18:40:15.533

"Notice how the usage of nearby evolves - . . . " <== I don't think you want to bring in the assumptions or claims that were made in that other thread, as seen in your included excerpt, as being facts. Not unless you can back up their assumptions and claims. You already know that some of their assumptions were faulty. – F.E. – 2015-03-30T18:50:30.063

Your concluding paragraph sounds like to me as if it is a "style" type of comment. The prepositional use of "nearby" is currently used by native English speakers, and its usage is unremarkable. – F.E. – 2015-03-30T18:58:25.100

You probably might want to keep in mind that dictionaries tend to use old-fashioned definitions as to parts-of-speech: e.g. they often label PPs that have no complement (i.e. a prepositional phrase that consists of a single word) as being an "adverb". But then, they are dictionaries, not grammar references. – F.E. – 2015-03-30T19:00:48.350

I just notice that I had a bad typo in my first comment for today: "Unfortunately, other categories than noun can also realize that function." That should have read: *"Unfortunately, other categories than adjective can also realize that function."* :( – F.E. – 2015-03-30T19:04:56.463

@F.E. About the evolution :D that was just for info. Found that interesting, so added it :-) I am convinced about the preposition but all I tried to show here is how the usage changed. But I am not really convinced with your claims about adjectives. I am sure you are aware that some adjectives functions attributively, some predicatively and some both. As for available, it functions in both way :-) But asleep, this is also an adjective. But we can't say - An asleep child, but can say the child is asleep :-) (cont..) – Man_From_India – 2015-03-31T03:37:51.483

(cont..) @F.E. It's also similar case. nearby - when used as an adjective can be used before noun. Oxford online dictionary, did add a note under it's adjective entry that usually before noun :-) Just one request - you once mentioned about the parts of speech test in CGEL, I haven't read that book thoroughly, but I want to browse through that part, if you have the page number readily available, can you please pass that? – Man_From_India – 2015-03-31T03:39:34.810

Your "asleep" example doesn't really parallel the "nearby" issue, because for the "nearby" issue the word "nearby" actually does exist in both attributive and predicative use; and when this happens with a word that is an adjective, then (in general? always?) both words are considered to be adjectives. And so, since the attributive use of "nearby" is considered to be an adjective, then, it seems that when the same word is used predicatively that it too ought to be considered to be an adjective--that is, if one's grammar considers it to be an adjective, which I don't. (cont.) – F.E. – 2015-03-31T07:09:24.427

(cont.) As for the grammatical tests in CGEL, they are probably spread out within the chapters on prepositions and adjective/adverbs; for instance, the prepositions chapter compares prepositions against adjectives and verbs and adverbs. – F.E. – 2015-03-31T07:09:34.447

1@F.E. I agree ;-) and no argument with a tiger ;-) :D and thanks for the info on test. – Man_From_India – 2015-03-31T12:28:35.027

0

Cambridge's English Grammar Today defines the word 'nearby'.

Nearby is an adverb or an adjective meaning ‘not far away’

I cannot think of one single example where I can use 'nearby' as a preposition.

In all your given examples (or in any example you can think of), it is quite clear whether the word 'nearby' is used as an adverb or adjective. How?

As a very general rule, 'nearby' as an adjective is followed by a noun. Check all the examples you gave. Said that 1, a, and d uses 'nearby' as an adjective and in rest all, it's an adverb.

So, to help you, when you see nearby + noun, it's adjective. Or else, it serves as an adverb in most of the cases, if not all!

About preposition, I think 'near' is way more common as compared to 'nearby'.

Learner's Dictionary:

Near and nearby are both synonyms for close. However, there are three clear and important differences in their meaning and use:

1) The first difference is that near is often used as a preposition, but nearby can never be properly used as a preposition. Furthermore, when near is a preposition, it doesn’t simply mean close, it means close to, as shown in this example:

I left the box near the door. [near means close to (the door)]
I left the box nearby the door. [You may hear someone say this occasionally, but it is not considered correct.]

2) The second difference is that near can mean close in time (=soon), as well as close in distance, but nearby cannot, as shown below:

Summer is drawing near. [near=close in time]
May is nearby. [nearby cannot mean close in time]

3) The third difference is that nearby can appear either before or after a noun that it describes, but near can normally appear only before the noun, and even then, only when referring to time.* Here are some examples:

We slept at a nearby motel. [nearby + noun]
We slept at a motel nearby. [noun + nearby]

I hope to visit you in the near future. [near + noun, and near=close in time]
I hope to visit you in your near home. [near cannot be used before a noun to refer to distance]

There is one exception to this near + noun restriction:

It’s perfectly acceptable to use near + noun when referring to distance in a sentence that contrasts near with far, as in this example:

The near side of the garage needs a paint job, but the far side looks okay.

Maulik V

Posted 2015-03-24T14:11:57.253

Reputation: 66 188

Thanks dear Maulik for advised me. So, I had to rewrite the problem. – nima – 2015-03-27T13:30:53.113

1So in the phrase nearby the station, there is a ... what does your grammar tell you that nearby is? An adjective, and adverb? Some examples from published books: "Her voice was frantic, high pitched, and spoke of the facts of a possible double murder nearby the station", "There is a commercial district nearby the station", " We checked into a hotel nearby the station". So, do you reckon this is an adverb? – Araucaria - Not here any more. – 2015-03-27T14:18:12.640

Thanks. Nevertheless, my specific question is as to using either adjective and adverb – nima – 2015-03-27T14:20:38.303

2@nima - it's never an adverb! EVER! (Use a modern grammar book, not a dictionary!) – Araucaria - Not here any more. – 2015-03-27T14:27:20.020

1

@Man_From_India But it is a well know fact about adverbs that they cannot pre-modify nouns ( eg, "a beautifully woman", "a locally man"). And it's a well-known fact about preposition phrases that they can function as adjuncts (read adverbials). For example, "After the concert, we ...,"; "In 1984, we ...", "In spite of the rain, we ..." etc. Perhaps it would be easier to understand my position if you read this post here about dicitonaries!.

– Araucaria - Not here any more. – 2015-03-27T15:57:39.713

@Araucaria True that an adverb can't pre-modify a noun. But in the sentence - go to the table there - there is clearly an adverb and it modifies a noun. An adverb phrase is sometimes treated as a prepositional phrase. There is a big on 5th December someone might consider one 5th December as an adverb phrase, and other will consider it as a preposition phrase. – Man_From_India – 2015-03-27T16:03:26.523

@Man_From_India That's why modern grammars refer to there as a preposition! And it does all the things a preposition should! For example it can be modified by straight and right (adverbs can't). It can function as a predicative complement (adverbs can't). And of course it can fairly freely modify nouns! (Adverbs can't except for in very special circumstances). It's a preposition!. – Araucaria - Not here any more. – 2015-03-27T16:06:07.553

1And also nearby the station is an adverbial as a whole. But nearby in that phrase is an adjective. I was wrong in treating it as an adverb. But I did made some search. nearby as a preposition is now rare or dialectical. Far from modern usage. In fact English Grammar Today recommends not to use nearby as a preposition. Instead use near. – Man_From_India – 2015-03-27T16:07:57.007

1@Man_From_India In "nearby the station" nearby is a preposition. Arguably, in "the nearby station" it's an adjective. I recommend not using English Grammar Today ;) – Araucaria - Not here any more. – 2015-03-27T16:14:10.557

@Araucaria Thanks :-) That recommendation is from English Grammar Today. I wished by "today" they meant contemporary :P anyway but that nearby as a preposition is rare and dialectical is from OED :-) – Man_From_India – 2015-03-27T16:17:04.367

@Man_From_India OED or Oxford dictionaries online? In any case, perhaps you'd find that post I linked to about dictionaries and parts of speech interesting! :) – Araucaria - Not here any more. – 2015-03-27T16:18:28.963

@Araucaria straight and right are which parts of speech? – Man_From_India – 2015-03-27T16:19:19.860

They's specialised adverbs, according to CaGEL, or OMEG - when used like this. When modifying nouns they're adjectives: the right answer, a straight ruler and so forth. – Araucaria - Not here any more. – 2015-03-27T16:20:59.927

@araucaria the preposition would be 'near' and not precisely 'nearby' I think. I'll be happy if you provide me a reference that nearby is preposition – Maulik V – 2015-03-27T16:21:58.600

@Araucaria I am sorry I haven't visited your link, but the online oxford dictionary is not OED, it's ODE. ODE - Oxford dictionary of English. OED - Oxford English Dictionary. – Man_From_India – 2015-03-27T16:23:22.053

@MaulikV It's true that in *nearby the station, there is a ... * nearby acts like a preposition. There is no denying. But as I said that usage is very rare or now dialectical, far from modern :-) – Man_From_India – 2015-03-27T16:26:23.607

@Araucaria It might be true. But the problem with us non native speakers is that if we learn a new word we try to find its grammar. Parts of speech is one of them. If we come to know about parts of speech we have an idea how that word can be used. Those grammar books are no doubt good, but they don't list all the words :-( I really want to know what should be a good source? I undoubtedly believe those last two paragraphs you wrote in that meta post. – Man_From_India – 2015-03-27T16:42:40.900

@Araucaria - FWIW, I, too, would favor near over nearby when used prepositionally: near the station, there is a... The word nearby sounds off in that context. Moreover, I just checked a few different dictionaries; I still can't find one that lists nearby as a preposition.

– J.R. – 2015-03-27T19:05:26.760

@Man_From_India Does the OED say that we only use "near by" (instead of "nearby") nowadays? For instance, we're not supposed to be writing something like "nearby this field there is a creek where you can do some fishing if you like"? – F.E. – 2015-03-27T19:05:28.650

@F.E. - That usage seems hard to find in books. Have a look.

– J.R. – 2015-03-27T19:09:20.453

@Man_From_India (and Araucaria) Interestingly, I've often had others try to correct my text in stuff like: "on to" --> "onto", and "can not" --> "cannot". So it is interesting that the trend had supposedly gone the other way with "nearby". :) – F.E. – 2015-03-27T19:09:42.560

@J.R. And then when you try the string "near by this"? – F.E. – 2015-03-27T19:12:01.557

@F.E. - When I change the string from nearby this * to near this *, the results look quite different. In the first case, nearly every instance of nearby is separated by the this with a period or comma: There was a spring nearby. This made it easy for us to get water. In the second case, I see countless instances of near used as a preposition: near this place, near this tree, near this window, near this quarry, near this rock, near this school, near this town, etc.

– J.R. – 2015-03-27T19:23:38.007

@J.R. So does that imply that native speakers who say stuff like "[nearby/near by] this field there is a creek where you can do some fishing if you like" are not using standard English? – F.E. – 2015-03-27T19:31:04.143

F.E. - Draw whatever conclusion you'd like; I'm just reporting on what I've found in dictionaries and books. I think @Man_From_India said it quite well: "nearby as a preposition is now rare or dialectical." – J.R. – 2015-03-27T20:28:30.353

@J.R. But what does your ear tell you? Does it sound natural to you? Are you BrE or AmE? Have you heard that kind of usage where you grew up? Have you seen that kind of usage in the books that you've read? – F.E. – 2015-03-28T00:09:01.307

@F.E. - If you and I were having a beer, and you said, "There's a hole-in-the-wall nearby this place that has great chicken wings, wanna go get some?" I'd say, "I'm in," and we'd talk about food, not grammar. If you asked me to proofread a paper where you wrote, "There was an infection nearby the lesion," I'd cross out the word nearby with my red pen and write near atop it. I'd probably get an argument from you, but I would stand by my advice – take it or leave it. As for books, I given two links to Google books now, I think those speak volumes on the subject (pun intended). – J.R. – 2015-03-28T00:24:28.807

@J.R. So you've never heard this kind of usage of "nearby" when you were growing up? Are you BrE or AmE? – F.E. – 2015-03-28T00:49:16.683

@F.E. I haven't checked about that nearby or near by issue yet in OED, I was more concerned with nearby as a preposition issue. I will check it. Will let you know. Or if you have access to OED you can check it yourself :-) – Man_From_India – 2015-03-28T02:34:08.127

@F.E. I have written an answer to provide the source, and what I feel about it. I have deleted that answer, because that doesn't address OP's question. It's only relevant to what we are discussing here. Deleted as it is, I think still you can view it :-) – Man_From_India – 2015-03-28T03:13:49.223

@J.R. You can't try to say *nearby the X * is difficult to find in books by looking up nearby, that would just be silly! To see if nearby is used as a preposition you need to look up nearby with a particular noun, for example nearby the station, or nearby her and so forth.

– Araucaria - Not here any more. – 2015-03-28T03:27:40.650

@J.R. Re the very bad habit of referring to dictionaries for grammar info, this thread might be helpful

– Araucaria - Not here any more. – 2015-03-28T03:31:08.090

@Araucaria if you say dictionaries like Oxford, Collins, MW, Cambridge are not good to refer to find whether the word is adverb/adjective/preposition, I'm speechless. – Maulik V – 2015-03-28T04:06:25.887

@Araucaria http://www.learnersdictionary.com/qa/what-s-the-difference-between-near-and-nearby check this!

– Maulik V – 2015-03-28T04:12:47.770

@Araucaria - Exactly! Your Google search for "nearby the station" finds plenty of hits in hotel reviews, but what happens when you look at books, which are edited with a bit more care? Try an Ngram of nearby the station vs. near the station, and tell us what you find. Also, ironically enough, your first page of Google results linked me to this page, a dictionary that weighs with its view on this very matter.

– J.R. – 2015-03-28T09:06:43.473

As for the "very bad habit" of using dictionaries for grammar info, I've tried very hard in my comments to avoid prescriptivism, to not declare that nearby the station is outright wrong. All I've done is echo Man_from_India's caution about using nearby as a preposition. I realize that word usage can change over time (fun as an adjective, e.g.), and that dictionaries can be slow to catch up. But I also think it's bad to pay no mind what dictionaries say, particularly when you steadfastly ignore what they say in the context of formal writing. – J.R. – 2015-03-28T09:12:20.300

(To everyone) I believe this question touches the very thing I once wondered and was quite frustrated at. (Now I'm more like "live and let live".) If grammar means a set of rules that describe the structure of a language, I believe it's fair to say that English has more than one grammar. (I find myself refer to English grammars, the plural, not singular, many times, unconsciously. That's how my view has changed.) When being asked why grammars instead of grammar, I answered because we have at least "traditional English grammar" and "modern English grammar". – Damkerng T. – 2015-03-28T09:16:31.610

I believe, traditionally (i.e. per traditional English grammar), nearby is never a preposition. On the other hand, nearby is never an adverb in modern English grammar. Yet both are the grammars of exactly the same language! Here is an example that I think could help: She lives nearby. What is the part of speech of nearby? An adverb? Or a preposition? To echo the voice of modern English grammar, I'll quote this executive summary by John Lawler: Calling something an "adverb" is a confession of ignorance. The quote can be found on ELU.

– Damkerng T. – 2015-03-28T09:20:36.173

@Araucaria I and FE were discussing a bit about it, and I came to know from him that you have already written some post where traditional grammar failed. Can you please provide some link? – Man_From_India – 2015-03-28T09:30:01.900

@DamkerngT. Interestingly in page no. 683 CGEL does say nearby is a preposition along with some other words that can be considered as an adverb. But in order to do it, it makes a lot of extra rules and terminology. I believe that makes thing more complicated. For example - Home marks location only as a subject-oriented complement: Are you home?, We stayed home, but not * I keep my computer home or * Home, the children were playing cricket. This is what CGEL says. But if we consider home as an adverb we don't need to think of any other thing. If it's easy why reject it? – Man_From_India – 2015-03-28T09:34:26.103

@Man_From_India I think it's because, to many people, easy and correct are not the same thing. (I remember that CoolHandLouis and I once jokingly discussed a Y-grammar, where everything is an "attribute", which is arguably the simplest thing you can get. Consider: "We stayed home." What is We? It's an attribute (representing the main idea). What is stayed? It's an attribute (modifying We). What is home? It's an attribute (modifying either We or stayed--it's your choice!). :-) – Damkerng T. – 2015-03-28T09:36:07.567

@DamkerngT. It makes me think why in the first place grammar was introduced? :D to make thinks easy and give a guideline to non native speakers, among many other things. In traditional grammar if we use home as an adverb, you see how many things we don't need to think about. We can use home correctly with easy explanation. Or else you have to think whether home is a preposition or not (that too not from a dictionary), then have to think if it's subject-oriented complement or not. Whether it can take complement or not :-) lots of things. – Man_From_India – 2015-03-28T09:41:09.277

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@Man_From_India I think that's quite a common reaction when people are first think about it (I remember feeling a bit uncomfortable). But actually, it makes like much more simple, and less complicated. You could have a look here, where I discuss prepositions a bit :)

– Araucaria - Not here any more. – 2015-03-28T10:49:54.920

So, would this one be incorrect?I hope to visit you in your near home. [near cannot be used before a noun to refer to distance] – nima – 2015-03-29T11:33:14.653