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A website says that "by" in the following sentence is an adverb.

1. The farmer laid by his crops.

But if we analyze, we can see that the word "by" answers the question "what" which makes it a preposition. Also the website says that "crops" directyly receives the action of the farmer and is the direct object of the verb "laid". If it is so then isn't "a small lake" in the following sentence also a direct object of the verb. But here the word "upon" is preposition and "small lake" is its object [indirect object of the verb].

2. We came upon a small lake.

Please clarify this problem.

GB
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Grammarian-botA website says that "by" in the following sentence is an adverb.

1. The farmer laid by his crops.

But if we analyze, we can see that the word "by" answers the question "what" which makes it a preposition. Also the website says that "crops" directyly receives the action of the farmer and is the direct object of the verb "laid". If it is so then isn't "a small lake" in the following sentence also a direct object of the verb. But here the word "upon" is preposition and "small lake" is its object [indirect object of the verb].

2. We came upon a small lake.

Please clarify this problem.

GB
"by" in The farmer laid by his crops at first glance means "next to", "near" so it is a preposition. There is a variant when "by" is an adverb here, but that would mean that there is the farmer who laid and that was done by his crops, as if his crops knocked him down Emotion: surprise) or more realistic make him sleepy after a lot of work. If that is so the example is not well chosen, it is too poetic, because we should have a continuation likeThe farmer (who was) laid by his crops suddenly woke up.

In either case "crops" is not a direct object.

However!!! If we understood lay by as a phrasal verb then and only then "by" is an adverb. "Lay by" means "set/lay aside". "Lay by" is very rare, so I could say that looking "lay by" in The farmer laid by his crops to mean "set aside" is more a trick than a real explanation. Not only that "lay by" as "set aside" is rare, it is far more used this way

The farmer laid his crops by.

For example you can say The farmer laid by his crops. but if "lay by" means "set aside" you say The farmer laid it/me/him by. not The farmer laid by it/me/him.

The farmer laid by it/me/him can only mean he sat down close to it/me/him.

In this case "crops" is a direct object.

Simple rules

  • if "by" is an adverb you test it when you replace "by" with "using" or "by means of"

  • if "by" is a preposition you test it when you replace "by" with "next to" or "near" "close"

  • check phrasal verbs with "by" as well
We came upon a small lake.
"upon" is a preposition, because "upon" is always a preposition Emotion: surprise)
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Aperisic
However!!! If we understood lay by as a phrasal verb then and only then "by" is an adverb. "Lay by" means "set/lay aside". "Lay by" is very rare, so I could say that looking "lay by" in The farmer laid by his crops to mean "set aside" is more a trick than a real explanation. Not only that "lay by" as "set aside" is rare, it is far more used this way

The farmer laid his crops by.

For example you can say The farmer laid by his crops. but if "lay by" means "set aside" you say The farmer laid it/me/him by. not The farmer laid by it/me/him.

The farmer laid by it/me/him can only mean he sat down close to it/me/him.

In this case "crops" is a direct object.

Simple rules

  • if "by" is an adverb you test it when you replace "by" with "using" or "by means of"
  • if "by" is a preposition you test it when you replace "by" with "next to" or "near" "close"
  • check phrasal verbs with "by" as well


  • We came upon a small lake.
    "upon" is a preposition, because "upon" is always a preposition Emotion: surprise)

    Well thats exactly my question. How would one know when a word like by is used as an adverb and when it's used as a preposition in a phrasal verb?

    GB

Grammarian-bot
Well thats exactly my question. How would one know when a word like by is used as an adverb and when it's used as a preposition in a phrasal verb?

GB

Well that is what is the problem in the given example. The rule of thumb for phrasal verbs is

  • if you have an object after by then that is a preposition (or passive)
  • if no object is required after by, by is an adverb
  • if no object is used after by in a particular case that still does not mean that by is an adverb, the question is can you place an object after by or not
  • if there is an object after by but you can place it before by and have the same meaning then by is an adverb (in this case, as well, if you cannot place a corresponding pronoun after by then by is an adverb)


  • For example:

    • go by - meaning "the passing of time", by is an adverb

    • go by something - meaning "pass without stopping near something", by is a preposition

    • stand by - "not become involved" adverb

    • stand by someone - preposition

    • swear by something - preposition

    • scrape by - adverb

    • preface something by something - preposition

    • pass by - adverb

    • pass by something - preposition

    • pass something by - "to happen without affecting it" adverb

    • lay something by - adverb

    • flash by - adverb

    • flash by something - preposition
    I give an example for the last, fourth, point

    • He sets off the bomb. FINE

    • He sets the bomb off. FINE

    • He sets it off. FINE

    • He sets off it. WRONG
    => off in set off is an adverb

    (I have to admit that I did not find any example of similar kind with by, i.e. by is very clear either adverb or preposition, so your first example is definitely something someone wrote carelessly.)

    In the example you gave, there is a total confusion, because we have an object after by so by is (by the rule given) a preposition. No one can say that in that example it is so obvious that by is an adverb and that it is some kind of an error to consider by in the sentence as a preposition. Absolutely not! It is very natural to understand by as a preposition there and in any similar cases I would always consider by as a preposition.

    So you are right! Somebody messed up there.

    However, I explained under what circumstances you can understand by in the first given sentence as an adverb. If the context is so strong that it is obvious that "lay by" means "set aside" I would not consider The farmer laid by his crops to be wrong, just unusual.

    BUT, to use this example (The farmer laid by his crops.) in a grammar book without a context to explain the difference of using by as an adverb or as a preposition is such a crime, that there must be a separate place in the Hell for those who decided to use it to teach someone. Not to mention that anybody dared to claim that it is for some reason strictly an adverb and nothing but an adverb. It is not, strictly speaking it has to be a preposition.

    So don't bother yourself with someone's carelessness any more. You, millions here and I know it better.

    [With by, one has to be very careful because it is used in a passive construction, and I even explained that using your example.]

    [That is why "lay by" with meaning "set aside" is used as "lay something by" - to avoid confusion.]
What does this mean?

The farmer laid by his crops.

This sentence doesn't mean anything to me.
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
To store the crops. Put away for future use.
Nona The Brit
To store the crops. Put away for future use.

The farmer laid his crops by.

is still my favorite.

From

The farmer laid by his crops.

you can jump into such a mess of thoughts (especially because of lay - lie confusion)

You would never say

The farmer laid by it.
So "to lay by" is a phrasal verb meaning "to store away"? New vocabulary for me!

But anyway, when you have a phrasal verb like that (or like "look up" (as a word in a dictionary) or "write down") - do the prepositions act like normal prepositions, or because they are inextricably linked to the verb, are they just treated as if they were part of the verb itself?
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