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My question is as titled. Per my understanding the "以后" in "回家以后", "从此以后", etc. is a preposition. So I am surprised the textbook says 以后 is an adverb here. Can anyone find a grammar book, dictionary, or any kind of documents to prove the textbook is correct?

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    I think your textbook is wrong. No way this could be an adverb. – Flaudre May 7 '15 at 18:18
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I can't find a resource to cite from, but here's what I know.

In some grammar textbooks, whether Chinese or English, words like this are referred to as a Prepositional Adverb, or words that are very similar in its form to a preposition but functions as an adverb.


EDIT

I am not certain about this, but some say that 以後(后) is one of the post-positions, which corresponds to prepositions in English.


Consider 以後/after in the following sentences:

  • 以後(after) as a preposition.

好了以後,記得打給我。

Call me after(when) you're done.

  • "After" as an adverb.

I will arrive soon after.

我馬上到。

  • 以後 as an adverb. (?)

以後,我會再打給你。

In the future, I will call you again.

  • for references to "prepositional adverb" may search Internet (i。p。note first 2 results), it seems answer#1 confirms that in the title example 以后 functions as "post-position" (corresponding to preposition in English, not as prepositional adverb which still is just a particular type of adverb, for examples in European languages see Internet) – user6065 May 7 '15 at 22:56
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    Some users may feel that "adverb"(副词) in answer #1 would usually be called "adverbial" or "adverbial adjunct" (状语)and "以后" is a locality phrase (方位词组),which is used as adverbial。 – user6065 May 8 '15 at 14:42
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Chinese has a number of post-positions (后置介词), instead of pre-position in English. But I have not seen an expert using this term.

A preposition or post-position (介词) is a word that requests a noun (介词宾语) to form a phrase (介词短语). This phrase could be used as an adverb (介词短语作状语).

For example,

(1) 他们是工厂的工人. They are workers of the factory.

(2) 桌子上有一本书. There is a book on the table.

In English, for the phrase "of the factory", "of" is positioned before "the factory"; therefore, it is called a preposition.

In Chinese, for the phrase "工厂的", "的" is positioned after "工厂"; therefore, it should be, I think, called a post-position.

In your question, for the phrase "回家以后", "回家" is a noun, which is formed from the verb "回" and its object "家". "以后" is a post-position. It is not an adverb here because it requests the noun "回家".

"以后” can be used as an adverb by itself. For example, 我以后会还给你钱. I will give you money back later.

There is another example in which "然后" is used as a conjunction to connect two sentences:

我回家,然后会给你打电话。

These are just my two cents.

  • How is this related to the question? – Flaudre May 7 '15 at 18:16
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I think "after returning home" is an adverb phrase. "After" is the preposition as you said.

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    The link is about adverb phrase in English. Though there's similarity with 状语 in Chinese but there are a lot of differences and the two concepts should not be confused. – NS.X. May 8 '15 at 0:12

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