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grammar nerds -- "all over"
Old 11-07-2017, 07:28 PM
 
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What part of speech would you say "all" is in this sentence?

SENTENCE: She painted flowers all over the wall.

We know that she is the subject, painted is the predicate, and flowers is the direct object.

How would you label "all over the wall"?

Would you do this:

all - adverb
over - preposition
the - adjective
wall - object of prep

OR

this:
all over - compound prep
the - adjective
wall - object of the prep



We can make the case for either, but I'm not sure which is the stronger argument.

If "all" is an adverb, it's to what extent she painted - ALL. But that makes "over the wall" not quite right because we're not really painting above the wall. If "all over" is the compound predicate, it tells us where she painted "all over."

If I had written "I painted all over," I would call "all" and "over" adverbs, which is what prepositions function as when they have no object. That leads me to believe "all over" is useful as a compound preposition. But I have never seen "all over" on any list of compound prepositions (which isn't to say it's not possible).


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adverb. . .
Old 11-07-2017, 08:51 PM
 
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( I think) if you substitute "all" for entirely or totally it would be an adverb. I always substitute words when I can't figure out what part of speech is necessary. . . even if it changes things up a bit.
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Old 11-07-2017, 09:16 PM
 
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I think you're right. It still makes "over the wall" feel weird but I think that's just because "over" has an informal definition that isn't "above."
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What about?
Old 11-08-2017, 02:25 AM
 
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"She painted flowers on the wall."

No need to worry about "all" in this case!
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Grammar Nerd here
Old 11-08-2017, 11:09 AM
 
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I'm inclined to say "all over" is functioning as a compound preposition here.

If "all" were functioning as an adverb modifying the verb "painted," it should be able to stand alone, without "over the wall." But "She painted flowers all" does not work.

If "all" were functioning as an adverb modifying the adverbial prepositional phrase "over the wall," then the prepositional phrase should be able to stand on its own. But "She painted flowers over the wall" also does not really work.

As you stated, prepositions become adverbs when there is no object of the preposition. In such cases, the object of the preposition is sort of understood, but not stated. ( For example, "They went outside" is perfectly fine--- "outside the house / building / gate" would be more precise, but is not necessary. The speaker/writer assumes that the listener/reader knows from the context what they went outside of.) "She painted flowers all over" does work, demonstrating that "all over" can stand alone, without its object. "The wall" is sort of understood in context; and it would certainly be more precise to include it, but it is not necessary. Therefore, I would say that "all over" is a compound preposition, since it can stand alone as a compound adverb when desired.


Interestingly, if the original sentence were "She painted flowers all across the wall," my answer would be different. In this case, "She painted flowers across the wall" does work --in my opinion, at least -- which means that "all" is functioning alone here as an adverb modifying the adverbial prepositional phrase (to what extent across the wall ?) I guess it has to do with the subtle differences in nuance or usage of "across" and "over."


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Old 11-08-2017, 02:20 PM
 
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I vote COMPOUND PREPOSITION because over the wall implies that it was on the other side of the wall. So, all over the wall would be another way of saying on the wall.
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Old 11-08-2017, 03:18 PM
 
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I'm going with compound preposition as Mme Escargot has made a very sound argument in favor of it, and she is one of my favorite grammar nerds on PT.
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:)
Old 11-08-2017, 03:38 PM
 
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Why, thank you, Gromit ! I'm flattered. Likewise. You usually beat me to the grammar questions posed on PT, so it's nice to have the chance to answer one for you, for a change.

I like logical reasoning, as you can tell.
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adverb;
Old 11-09-2017, 03:13 PM
 
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"all over the wall" is an idiom. It means something has spread on the wall; in this case she got paint where it shouldn't have been. 'all' tells where, and is an adverb.
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