On 1/20/06, Gary Shannon <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Trying to shoehorn an individual, unique word into
> some artifical category like "adjective" or "adverb"
> just underscores how arbitrary those categories are,
> and how poorly they fit the words of a living
> languages. (It's all exceptions, I tell you, and no
> rules. (At least no universally applicable rules.))

This from the guy who admits that he doens't understand grammar?  Gee,
I'm convinced. :)

Sure, parts of speech are fluid -  an "adjective" was originally
considered a type of noun, words change part of speech (or sprout new
meanings in other ones, anyway) all the time, and the fact that we
refer to "prepositions" by their syntactic position instead of their
semantic role is kinda silly, but parts of speech are nevertheless
quite useful descriptive categories.   The fact that they're used
prescriptively doesn't change that, any more than prescriptive use of
other grammatical terms does.

Whatever you call "ago", it's clear that a phrase containing a time
period + ago is, taken as a whole, an adverb.   Adjectives can't turn
a noun phrase into an adverb, so it's clearly not an adjective. 
Prepositions can turn a noun phrase into an adverb - that's their
primary job, in fact - but ago isn't positioned pre the noun phase. 
This is where I think the fact that we call them "prepositions" is
kinda lame.  We should describe what they do, not where they sit.  But
in lieu of such a category word, "postposition" will do: something
that works like a preposition but goes after its object instead of
before it.

Mark J. Reed <[log in to unmask]>