Preposition deletion

RonButters at AOL.COM RonButters at AOL.COM
Sun Nov 30 17:40:31 UTC 2008

I seem to remember that this is discussed in DARE, and there are probably
notes about regional variation in preposition usage in early issues of AMERICAN

The two sentences that you cite are not simple examples of preposition
"deletion", however, at leassdt as youi have phrased them. In both cases, a whole
prepositional phrase is deleted (in the second, a PP + the following Prep),
though probably it would be more accurate to say that what is deleted is the
preposition "into"

"let's go across the park" = let's go across into to the park

"let's go down the basement" = let's go down into the basement

I've used the second (where "down" = "down into") all my life, but the first
soiunds alien to me.
In a message dated 11/30/08 11:50:18 AM, gbarrett at WORLDNEWYORK.ORG writes:

If you Google "down cellar and sit" you'll get several authentic 19th century
usages, but this does seem to be a frozen expression (one my mother used
jokingly, in general when she had done something mildly embarassing).

If you Google " "down the basement" -stairs -steps -ramp -floor" you get over
100,000 hits, including the reminder that "it went down the toilet" is pretty

"down the basement and" turns up several hundred, including this at the top
of the list: "At last, success was mine again as I went down the basement and
heard the furious clawing of the animal in the cage."

> The sentences below come from a listener to the radio show, who says
> she remembers them from her family in the 1950s.
> "let's go across the park" = let's go across the street to the park
> "let's go down the basement" = let's go down the stairs to the basement
> I believe I've read something about this sort of preposition deletion
> in the last few years, but I can't get enough purchase on the key
> elements of it to get fruitful results online or in my library.
> Any ideas as to whether this is a common dialect feature and if it's
> been discussed elsewhere?
> Thanks,
> Grant Barrett
> gbarrett at
> 113 Park Place, No. 3
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

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