Letter of the Day = English Lesson

Here’s the Lowdown On Verbifying ‘Up’



Editor, Times-Dispatch: Marilyn Joyce was “appalled” by the paper’s use of “up” as a verb, as in “Verizon Looks to Up Rates” [“Headline Distressed Language Fan”]. No doubt Ms. Joyce never has “offed a pig” or “outed a gay person,” but has she ever “downed a pint”? The sub-class of prepositions called “directionals” may be naturally converted into verbs that connote movement. They can also be used in nouns: an “inning” of baseball, an “ex.” On the other hand, that sub-class called “positionals” is not very likely to be converted into a verb: We would not say “to above” or “to beside.” More likely, these would be used in adjectival constructions: “an inside job” or “George is very much with it.” The Latin form of the positional preposition meaning “above” is well known as the English adjective “super,” and its Greek cognate “hyper” means “agitated.” In conclusion, I say to all, up with “up” – expand your verbal horizons and make “up” yours. Robert S. Williamson. midlothian.

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