P-words are defined as prepositions and adverbs that no longer perform prepositional or adverbial functions. P-words are function words, which are defined as words that perform definite grammatical functions but that lack definite lexical meaning.
In grammar, a particle is a function word that expresses a grammatical relationship with another word or words. Particles appear within three constructions in English: phrasal verbs, quasi-modal verbs, and determiner phrases. P-words are the only grammatical from that perform the grammatical function of particle in English. Examples of p-words as particles include the following:
- throw up (phrasal verb)
- squirrel away (phrasal verb)
- lay in on (phrasal verb)
- ought to (quasi-modal verb)
- used to (quasi-modal verb)
- had better (quasi-modal verb)
- none of the (determiner phrase)
- all three of the (determiner phrase)
- many of the (determiner phrase)
P-word as Particle in Phrasal Verb
P-word as Particle in Quasi-modal Verb
P-word as Particle in Determiner Phrase
Brinton, Laurel J. & Donna M. Brinton. 2010. The linguistic structure of Modern English, 2nd edn. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Hopper, Paul J. 1999. A short course in grammar. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
Huddleston, Rodney. 1984. Introduction to the grammar of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.