Where Mathematics and Grammar meet

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Which part of speech?

Verb
2
2%
Noun
48
52%
Adverb
25
27%
Adjective
5
5%
Preposition
9
10%
Conjuction/Interjection/Pronoun/Article/etc
4
4%
 
Total votes: 93

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Where Mathematics and Grammar meet

Postby mikesty » Mon May 21, 2007 6:58 pm UTC

Feel free to move this to math/general, but I wanted SERIOUS input on this, which is why I put it in SERIOUS business.

Today in Calculus, we begun our lesson on related rates (yeah... 2 weeks of school left... we're a bunch of idiots). We solved a problem on the board and wrote out the solution:

"The balloon is rising @ 140 feet / minute"

Somehow the teacher (a spaz) asked about the structure of this sentence and a discussion fired up as to what part of speech the expression "140 feet / minute" was.

A lot of people argued between two possible choices while I sat firmly planted with my idea of yet another choice, which I strongly believed was correct. After class, I explained my reasoning to the teacher who began to understand what I was saying.

So, assuming it is all one phrase and the same part of speech, which part of speech is "140 feet per minute" in that sentence?

EDIT: Just for curiousity's sake, post your OWN ideas and thoughts before reading other's posts. I know this is usually against the norm, but I'm just curious to know what each individual thinks.
Last edited by mikesty on Mon May 21, 2007 7:09 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby ArchangelShrike » Mon May 21, 2007 7:02 pm UTC

Balloon is.
Balloon is rising.
Balloon is rising at the box. / Shoot at the box.
Balloon is rising at "140 feet per minute."

I should be wrong (I hated memorizing rules, which lead to me hating grammar and learning languages) but whatever the "box" is is it. A direct object? No. Something else. It all depends on how you parse it, because different people will have different views.

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Postby Brian » Mon May 21, 2007 7:04 pm UTC

Noun.

The speed of the balloon is an idea and ideas are nouns.

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Postby Belial » Mon May 21, 2007 7:10 pm UTC

"140 feet per minute" *isn't* one part of speech, for one, but if you want to take it as a phrase, Brian is correct, the phrase functions as a noun.

Specifically, in this case, it's functioning as an object of a preposition, the preposition being "at".

Once you add "at" in, the whole prepositional phrase is functioning adverbially, and is modifying the verb "is rising", answering the question "is rising how?".

So, short answer: noun.

Long, coherent answer: Noun, object of an adverbial prepositional phrase modifying "is rising".

Edited for silly verb tenses.
Last edited by Belial on Mon May 21, 2007 7:24 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby TheTankengine » Mon May 21, 2007 7:12 pm UTC

The phrase collectively is a noun.

Individually:
140 - adjective
feet - noun
per - preposition
minute - noun

EDIT:hmmm, I think belial's got it.
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Postby mikesty » Mon May 21, 2007 7:22 pm UTC

Well, I guess I underestimated the grammar ability of my peers.

They argued between adjective and adverb while I rested firmly on 'noun' and they all thought I was completely insane. I was given looks of bewilderment.

My arguments to the teacher were:

1) How does one modify or further describe the part "140 feet/minute"? You could rephrase the entire sentence as:

"The balloon rises at a quick 140ft/min"

Quick is plainly an adjective, thus making 140ft/min collectively a noun.

You cannot correctly rephrase as:

"The balloon rises at a quickly 140ft/min"
(of course you can say "The balloon quickly rises at 140ft/min)

... because that would mean that 140ft/min is either a verb, adverb, or adjective.

2) The word "at" is a preposition, and although the ending to the phrase functions adverbially, you need to link pronouns and nouns.

Sorry if you felt this utterly simple, I did too, I just wanted to make sure that I wasn't missing anything and there wasn't an easier way to point out the fact that the phrase is indeed a noun in the collective sense.

I am no grammar wizard myself, FYI.
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Postby Azrael » Mon May 21, 2007 7:32 pm UTC

mikesty wrote:Well, I guess I underestimated the grammar ability of my peers.

They argued between adjective and adverb while I rested firmly on 'noun' and they all thought I was completely insane. I was given looks of bewilderment.


When trying to answer a question in any general education type of class, I've always found these steps to be helpful.

1) Ask question in a specific, yet easy to understand manner.
2) Formulate own list of possible answers, independently of group.
3) Wait for group consensus (or argumentative equilibrium) to be reached.
4) Eliminate group results from own list (if they appear at all).
5) Select answer from newly shortened list.

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Postby gmalivuk » Tue May 22, 2007 1:30 am UTC

Firstly, it's not a part of speech. Just like the whole sentence is not a part of speech.

But I picked noun because it is a noun phrase that could be replaced with a noun and the sentence would still be grammatical. In some cases, it'd even continue to make sense, syntactically.

"The balloon is rising at school."
"The balloon is rising at graduation."
"The balloon is rising at your mom."
etc.
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Postby Castaway » Tue May 22, 2007 1:42 am UTC

I thought about it as if a Joule = (kg*m^2)/s^2 and Joule is a noun, then ft / min should also be a noun. Besides, numbers generally modify nouns.
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Postby Owijad » Tue May 22, 2007 2:01 am UTC

Feet per second is basically the same as MPH (KPH), which is clearly used as a noun.
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Postby apricity » Tue May 22, 2007 2:37 am UTC

Damn. I picked preposition because I'm stupid. I meant it's part of the prepositional phrase, the object of the preposition, as Belial explained. :( I'm actually good at grammar, just not reading directions!
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Postby Gelsamel » Tue May 22, 2007 3:55 am UTC

I failed english but I'll say Adverb, Rising is the Adjective and "X feet per second" is elaborating on the Adjective, and hence the phrase as a whole I would say may be treated as an adverb.
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Postby Peshmerga » Tue May 22, 2007 4:50 am UTC

Definitely adverb now that I think about it. It's describing the balloon's motion of rising, which is a verb.
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Postby __Kit » Tue May 22, 2007 4:54 am UTC

Adverb - it describes how (fast) the balloon is moving (verb) - it describes the verb.
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Postby Gelsamel » Tue May 22, 2007 9:34 am UTC

Same thing, this is why I failed English.
"Give up here?"
- > No
"Do you accept defeat?"
- > No
"Do you think games are silly little things?"
- > No
"Is it all pointless?"
- > No
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Postby Andrew » Tue May 22, 2007 10:34 am UTC

__Kit wrote:Adverb - it describes how (fast) the balloon is moving (verb) - it describes the verb.

"at 140 feet/minute" is being used as an adverb. "140 feet/minute" on its own is being used as a noun.

Though really it should say 0.71m/s.

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Postby bookishbunny » Tue May 22, 2007 1:09 pm UTC

I call it a noun. It's a measurement. The verb would be whatever you are doing at (preposition) 140 feet/minute. ETA: In the sentence "I walked two miles", "two miles" would not be considered an adverb.

I don't the phrase "at 140 feet/minute" is an adverb any more that "to the house" would be an adverb in the sentence "I'm walking to the house". However, there may be an actual rule that says otherwise. ETA: The more I look at other people's posts, the more unclear I am on how I feel about the "at" situation.
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Postby Andrew » Tue May 22, 2007 1:17 pm UTC

I don't think it's useful to group that many words together and call it an adverb whether it's true or not. It's a preposition and then a noun, and maybe some more stuff -- I'm not sure what numbers are classed as; personally I'd just make them totally separate, but I know very little of this kind of thing.

Otherwise why not just say "the" is an article, "balloon" is a noun, and the rest is a verb?

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Postby TheTankengine » Tue May 22, 2007 1:39 pm UTC

Andrew wrote:Otherwise why not just say "the" is an article, "balloon" is a noun, and the rest is a verb?


Because its not.
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Postby Andrew » Tue May 22, 2007 2:19 pm UTC

TheTankengine wrote:
Andrew wrote:Otherwise why not just say "the" is an article, "balloon" is a noun, and the rest is a verb?


Because its not.


Yes, I know that; it was a rhetorical question.

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Postby Belial » Tue May 22, 2007 2:40 pm UTC

Andrew wrote:I don't think it's useful to group that many words together and call it an adverb whether it's true or not. It's a preposition and then a noun, and maybe some more stuff -- I'm not sure what numbers are classed as; personally I'd just make them totally separate, but I know very little of this kind of thing.

Otherwise why not just say "the" is an article, "balloon" is a noun, and the rest is a verb?


Because it's not. Calling it a "verb phrase" (the verb and all the words modifying that verb) however, is correct, and useful, but only minimally so, and begs for further dissection.

However, taking "At 140 feet per minute" as a single unit and deciding what the phrase modifies is an important distinction, and needs to be sorted out for the construction of complex sentences.

And you're not calling it an adverb. You're calling it an "adverbial prepositional phrase". A phrase (ie, a sentence fragment) that fulfills the function of an adverb, in that it modifies a verb, adjective, or another adverb.

This is in contrast to an adjectival prepositional phrase like "above that building" in "The balloon above that building is rising at 140 feet per minute". In that case, the prepositional phrase is modifying a noun, and is fulfilling a completely different function in that sentence: the function of an adjective. You see why the distinction is important, now?

However, the OP didn't ask what "at 140 feet per minute" was. He asked what "140 feet per minute" was.

Taken as a whole, "140 feet per minute" is the object of a preposition ("at") and therefore is a noun-phrase (defined as a noun and all the words that modify it). Taken word by word, the actual noun is "feet" which is modified by the adjective "140" (answering the question "how many"), and the adjectival prepositional phrase "per minute" (answering "what kind of feet") in which "per" is the preposition and "minute" is the object and therefore another noun.

So, as you see, complex sentences like this one have multiple levels to them. On one level, each word is a separate part of speech, but entire clumps of words, sentence fragments in their own right, function as though they were single words for the purpose of sentence structure. And to make the sentence work, you have to understand, on at least an intuitive level, *all* the functions that a particular word is serving, in relation to all the words around it.

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Postby SecondTalon » Tue May 22, 2007 2:47 pm UTC

Isn't the sentence properly "The balloon is rising at a rate of 140 feet per minute" ? Or is the "a rate of" completely unneccessary?
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Postby Belial » Tue May 22, 2007 2:52 pm UTC

It just adds another level or preposition. It's not necessary, grammatically, but it's not incorrect either.

Once you do that, it's just "at a rate of 140 feet per minute" modifying "is rising" as an adverbial phrase, and "of 140 feet per minute" modifying "rate" as an adjectival phrase.

As I said, not necessary, but it is equally correct.
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Postby SecondTalon » Tue May 22, 2007 2:55 pm UTC

Ah, well then, carry on. And diagram+scan. You know you want to.

I ended a sentence with a preposition because I'm that .... something or another.
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Postby Belial » Tue May 22, 2007 2:56 pm UTC

Actually, now that I look at it, it's not a terribly interesting diagram. I'll still scan it, though. I can kindof get in trouble for scanning personal crap at work, so I'll wait for a time when there's no one else in the copy room.

Also, "to" isn't a preposition there. It's an abbreviated infinitive. English is just stupid and and has two-word infinitives. If you were to write it out fully it would be "You know you want to (do it)" or something of the sort, where "to do it" is an infinitive phrase functioning as a noun and the direct object of "want". That sentence also has some weird subjunctive (I think) phrase things going on......

....fuck, someone switched me into grammar mode. Someone will need to shut me off before I go critical.
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Postby bookishbunny » Tue May 22, 2007 2:59 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:Ah, well then, carry on. And diagram+scan. You know you want to.

I ended a sentence with a preposition because I'm that .... something or another.


it's okay to end a sentence in a preposition in English, especially when the only other option is an awkward sentence. However, that reminds me of a joke. Can I post it here, being Serious Business and all? Is there another grammar thread I can put it in (aha! Another proposition!)?

Go ahead. I would recommend just editing it into this post, though.

A Northern girl and a Southern girl are sitting next each other at a dinner party. The Southern girl turns to the Northern girl and asks, "So, where y'all from?".

The Northern girl looks down her nose at her and says, "We are from a place where people don't end their sentences in prepositions."

The Southern girl thinks about it for a moment, then turns again to her dining companion and says, "So, where y'all from...Bitch."
Last edited by bookishbunny on Tue May 22, 2007 3:32 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby SecondTalon » Tue May 22, 2007 3:08 pm UTC

Well, yeah, while I recognize that it's possible to do it in a few instances, it's also incorrect to have a sentence that asks "Where'd you get that at?" as "at" is unneccessary, among other reasons of which I have no knowledge.

I need to read up on grammar.
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Postby bookishbunny » Tue May 22, 2007 3:20 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:Well, yeah, while I recognize that it's possible to do it in a few instances, it's also incorrect to have a sentence that asks "Where'd you get that at?" as "at" is unneccessary, among other reasons of which I have no knowledge.

I need to read up on grammar.


The "at" would also be incorrect if you said "At where did you get that". A preposition at the end of a sentence is usually incorrect when placed anywhere in that sentence. I'm going off in search of a link. BRB...
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Postby Belial » Tue May 22, 2007 3:20 pm UTC

No it isn't. It's just awkward.
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Postby bookishbunny » Tue May 22, 2007 3:21 pm UTC

Belial wrote:No it isn't. It's just awkward.


What makes a sentence "awkward' is usually what makes it bad grammar, no? That's why it's looked down upon (oh, did it again!).

Edit: I couldn't find my link. It had the history of why the rule was made and why it's no longer the rule in today's English-speaking circles. Harrumph.
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Postby SecondTalon » Tue May 22, 2007 3:21 pm UTC

Why search when there's Wikipedia?

Which is making me incredibly lazy. I think I search Wikipedia more than I use Google.
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Postby Belial » Tue May 22, 2007 3:29 pm UTC

What makes a sentence "awkward' is usually what makes it bad grammar, no? That's why it's looked down upon (oh, did t again!).


Sometimes. Sometimes, it just makes it bad composition.

Though, actually, now that I think on it, you might be right, that sentence might be incorrect.

Question construction is weird, essentially it's a sentence turned inside out, with a question word (who what where when) standing in for another word.

To understand how a question fits together gramatically, you need to turn it right side out ("You did get that at where") and then substitute in an appropriate noun for the question word ("You did get that at the market").

Or so I was thinking. But actually, the word "where" is weird, because it stands in for a whole phrase. In this case, it can stand in for the entirety of "at the market", because "You did get that where?" or "Where did you get that?" is correct. So the "at" *might* be redundant.

In other words, "where" *can* stand in for the entire prepositional phrase, there, I'm just not sure whether it *has to*.

It becomes much less complicated with a sentence like "Whom did you get that from?" which inverts to "You did get that from whom" and then "whom" becomes something like "Billy", and the sentence is "You did get that from Billy" and is totally correct.
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Postby McLurker » Tue May 22, 2007 3:37 pm UTC

A Southerner stopped a stranger on the Harvard campus and asked, "Could you please tell me where the library is at?" The stranger responded, "Educated people never end their sentences with a preposition." The overly polite Southerner then apologetically repeated himself: "Could you please tell me where the library is at, you jerk?"


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Postby gmalivuk » Tue May 22, 2007 3:49 pm UTC

Belial wrote:Or so I was thinking. But actually, the word "where" is weird, because it stands in for a whole phrase. In this case, it can stand in for the entirety of "at the market", because "You did get that where?" or "Where did you get that?" is correct. So the "at" *might* be redundant.


So who's with me in favor of reinstating cases for at least some of these words? Some people still use "whom", which is the object form of "who" (like "me" is for "I").

But if we also reinstated whence, thence, and hence (for from where, from there, and from here, respectively), along with whither, thither, and hither (for to where, to there, and to here, respectively), perhaps these things would be less complicated. (There's probably also a word in older English for something like "at where". At least, there is in other languages with cases.)

Or... maybe not.
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Postby Belial » Tue May 22, 2007 3:54 pm UTC

Hahah. I'd be in favor.
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Postby rhalleys5th » Tue May 22, 2007 6:16 pm UTC

Two ways I could see this being confused:
1) By comparing it with the sentence "The balloon is rising quickly," wherein quickly is an adverb.
2) "at 140 feet/minute" is a prepositional phrase.

That said, it's definitely a noun. To demonstrate: One could substitute "140 feet/minute" with "some speed."

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Postby EradicateIV » Tue May 22, 2007 6:22 pm UTC

I said it was a noun, this acts like a direct object in my mind.

I was going fast.
How fast or how were you going?
60 miles per hour.
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Postby xooll » Tue May 22, 2007 9:12 pm UTC

Preposition.
The ballon was rising...
to the sky?
with a duck?
at a speed? or, if you prefer, at 140 feet/sec?
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Postby ZeroSum » Tue May 22, 2007 9:14 pm UTC

I believe that the statement:
The dog was running ten miles per hour.
Is a transformation from the statement:
The dog was running (at a speed of) ten miles per hour.
Thus indicating that "ten miles per hour" would be a noun phrase.

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Postby Belial » Tue May 22, 2007 9:27 pm UTC

Image
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