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In grammar, a preposition is a part of speech that introduces a prepositional phrase. For example, in the sentence "The cat sleeps on the sofa", the word "on" is a preposition, introducing the prepositional phrase "on the sofa". In English, the most used prepositions are "of", "to", "in", "for", "with" and "on". Simply put, a preposition indicates a relation between things mentioned in a sentence.

Linguists sometimes distinguish between a preposition, which precedes its phrase, a postposition, which follows its phrase, and a circumposition, which surrounds its phrase. Taken together, these three parts of speech are called adpositions. In more technical language, an adposition is an element that, prototypically, combines syntactically with a phrase and indicates how that phrase should be interpreted in the surrounding context. Some linguists use the word "preposition" instead of "adposition" for all three cases.[1]

In linguistics, adpositions are considered to be members of the syntactic category "P". "PPs",[2] consisting of an adpositional head and its complement phrase, are used for a wide range of syntactic and semantic functions, most commonly modification and complementation. The following examples illustrate some uses of English prepositional phrases:

  • as a modifier to a verb
    • sleep throughout the winter
    • danced atop the tables for hours
  • as a modifier to a noun
    • the weather in April
    • cheese from France with live bacteria
  • as the complement of a verb
    • insist on staying home
    • dispose of unwanted items
  • as the complement of a noun
    • a thirst for revenge
    • an amendment to the constitution
  • as the complement of an adjective or adverb
    • attentive to their needs
    • separately from its neighbors
  • as the complement of another preposition
    • until after supper
    • from beneath the bed

Adpositions perform many of the same functions as case markings, but adpositions are syntactic elements, while case markings are morphological elements.

Contents

Definition

Adpositions form a heterogeneous class, with fuzzy boundaries that tend to overlap with other categories (like verbs, nouns, and adjectives). It is thus impossible to provide an absolute definition that picks out all and only the adpositions in every language. The following features, however, are often required of adpositions.

  • An adposition combines syntactically with exactly one complement phrase, most often a noun phrase (or, in a different analysis, a determiner phrase). (In some analyses, an adposition need have no complement. See below.) In English, this is generally a noun (or something functioning as a noun, e.g., a gerund), called the object of the preposition, together with its attendant modifiers.
  • An adposition establishes the grammatical relationship that links its complement phrase to another word or phrase in the context. In English, it also establishes a semantic relationship, which may be spatial (in, on, under, ...), temporal (after, during, ...), or logical (via, ...) in nature.
  • An adposition determines certain grammatical properties of its complement (e.g. its case). In English, the objects of prepositions are always in the objective case. In Koine Greek, certain prepositions always take their objects in a certain case (e.g., εν always takes its object in the dative), and other prepositions may take their object in one of several cases, depending on the meaning of the preposition (e.g., δια takes its object in the genitive or in the accusative, depending on the meaning).
  • Adpositions are non-inflecting (or "invariant"); i.e., they do not have paradigms of forms (for different tenses, cases, genders, etc.) in the same way as verbs, adjectives, and nouns in the same language. There are exceptions, though, for example in Celtic languages (see Inflected preposition).

Properties

The following properties are characteristic of most adpositional systems.

  • Adpositions are among the most frequently occurring words in languages that have them. For example, one frequency ranking for English word forms[3] begins as follows (adpositions in bold):
the, of, and, to, a, in, that, it, is, was, I, for, on, you, …
  • The most common adpositions are single, monomorphemic words. According to the ranking cited above, for example, the most common English prepositions are the following:
of, to, in, for, on, with, as, by, at, from, …
  • Adpositions form a closed class of lexical items and cannot be productively derived from words of other categories.
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Stranding

Preposition stranding is a syntactic construct in which a preposition with an object occurs somewhere other than immediately next to its object. It is most commonly found in English as well as North Germanic languages. The existence of preposition stranding in German and Dutch is debated. Preposition stranding is also found in languages outside the Germanic family, such as Vata and Gbadi (languages of the Niger-Congo) and the dialects of some North American French speakers.

Classification

Adpositions can be organized into subclasses according to various criteria. These can be based on directly observable properties (such as the adposition's form or its position in the sentence) or on less visible properties (such as the adposition's meaning or function in the context at hand).

Simple vs complex

Simple adpositions consist of a single word, while complex adpositions consist of a group of words that act as one unit. Some examples of complex prepositions in English are:

  • in spite of, with respect to, except for, by dint of, next to

The boundary between simple and complex adpositions is not clear-cut and for the most part arbitrary. Many simple adpositions are derived from complex forms (e.g. with + inwithin, by + sidebeside) through grammaticalization. This change takes time, and during the transitional stages the adposition acts in some ways like a single word, and in other ways like a multi-word unit. For example, current German orthographic conventions recognize the indeterminate status of the following adpositions, allowing two spellings:[4]

  • anstelle / an Stelle ("instead of"), aufgrund / auf Grund ("because of"), mithilfe / mit Hilfe ("thanks to"), zugunsten / zu Gunsten ("in favor of"), zuungunsten / zu Ungunsten ("to the disadvantage of"), zulasten / zu Lasten ("at the expense of")

The boundary between complex adpositions and free combinations of words is also a fuzzy one. For English, this involves structures of the form "preposition + (article) + noun + preposition". Many sequences in English, such as in front of, that are traditionally regarded as prepositional phrases are not so regarded by linguists.[5] The following characteristics are good indications that a given combination is "frozen" enough to be considered a complex preposition in English:

  • It contains a word that cannot be used in any other context: by dint of, in lieu of.
  • The first preposition cannot be replaced: with a view to but not *for/without a view to
  • It is impossible to insert an article, or to use a different article: on *an/*the account of, for the/*a sake of
  • The range of possible adjectives is very limited: in great favor of, but not *in helpful favor of
  • The number of the noun cannot be changed: by virtue/*virtues of
  • It is impossible to use a possessive determiner: in spite of him, not *in his spite

Complex prepositions develop through the grammaticalization of commonly-used free combinations. This is an ongoing process that introduces new prepositions into English.[6]

Classification by position

The surface position of an adposition with respect to its complement allows us to define the following subclasses:

  • A preposition precedes its complement to form a prepositional phrase.
German: auf dem Tisch, French: sur la table, Polish: na stole ("on the table")
  • A postposition follows its complement to form a postpositional phrase.
Mandarin: 桌子 zhuōzi shàng (lit. "table on"), Finnish: (minun) kanssani (lit. "my with"), Turkish: benimle (or "benim ile") (lit. "me with")

These two terms are in fact much more commonly used than the more general adposition. Whether a language has primarily prepositions or postpositions is seen as an important aspect of its typological classification, correlated with many other properties of the language according to research into linguistic universals.

It is usually straightforward to say whether an adposition precedes or follows its complement, but in some cases, the complement may not appear in its "normal" position. For example, in preposition stranding constructions, the complement appears somewhere to the left of the preposition:

  • {How much money} did you say the guy wanted to sell us the car for?
  • She's going to the Bahamas? {Who} with?

In other cases, the complement of the adposition is missing altogether:

  • I'm going to the park. Do you want to come with?
  • French: Il fait trop froid, je ne suis pas habillée pour. ("It's too cold, I'm not dressed for [this situation].")

The adpositions in these examples are generally still considered to be prepositions, because when they form a phrase with the complement (in more ordinary constructions), they must appear first.

Some adpositions can in fact appear on either side of their complement; these might be called ambipositions (Reindl 2001, Libert 2006):

  • He slept {through the whole night}/{the whole night through}.
  • German: {meiner Meinung nach}/{nach meiner Meinung} ("in my opinion")

An ambiposition may have distinct meanings, and it may govern distinct cases, depending on its position. E.g. German preposition, entlang (along). It can be put before or after the noun related to it (but with different noun cases attached to it).

die Straße entlang
entlang der Straße
along the road

Another logical possibility is for the adposition to appear on both sides of its complement:

  • A circumposition has two parts, which surround the complement to form a circumpositional phrase.
    • English: from now on
    • Dutch: naar het einde toe ("towards the end", lit. "to the end to")
    • Mandarin: 冰箱 cóng bīngxīang ("from the inside of the refrigerator", lit. "from refrigerator inside")
    • French: à un détail près ("except for one detail", lit. "at one detail near")

"Circumposition" can be useful as a descriptive term, although on closer inspection, most circumpositional phrases can be broken down into a more hierarchical structure, or given a different analysis altogether. For example, the Mandarin example above could be analyzed as a prepositional phrase headed by cóng ("from"), taking the postpositional phrase bīngxīang lǐ ("refrigerator inside") as its complement. Alternatively, the cóng may be analyzed as not being a preposition at all (see the section below regarding coverbs).

  • An inposition is an adposition between constituents of a complex complement.[7]
  • Ambiposition is a term sometimes used for an adposition that can function as either a preposition or a postposition.[8]

Melis (2003) proposes the descriptive term interposition for adpositions in the structures such as the following:

  • mot à mot ("word for word"), coup sur coup ("one after another, repeatedly"), page après page ("page upon page")

These phrases do require special attention, but the term "interposition" cannot be taken literally to mean that the adposition appears inside its complement (because the two nouns do not form a single phrase *mot mot or *page page). Genuine examples of "interposed" adpositions can be found in Latin (e.g. summa cum laude, lit. "highest with praise"), but these are always related to a more basic prepositional structure.

Classification by complement

Although noun phrases are the most typical complements, adpositions can in fact combine with a variety of syntactic categories, much like verbs.

  • noun phrases: It was on {the table}.
  • adpositional phrases: Come out from {under the bed}.
  • adjectives and adjective phrases: The scene went from {blindingly bright} to {pitch black}.
  • adverbs or adverb phrases: I worked there until {recently}
  • infinitival or participial verb phrases: Let's think about {solving this problem}.
  • interrogative clauses: We can't agree on {whether to have children or not}
  • full sentences (see Conjunctions below)

Also like verbs, adpositions can appear without a complement; see Adverbs below.

Some adpositions could be described as combining with two complements:

  • {With Sammy president}, we can all come out of hiding again.
  • {For Sammy to become president}, they'd have to seriously modify the Constitution.

It is more commonly assumed, however, that Sammy and the following predicate first forms a small clause, which then becomes the single complement of the preposition. (In the first example above, a word (such as as) may be considered to be ellided, which, if present, would clarify the grammatical relationship.)

Semantic classification

Adpositions can be used to express a wide range of semantic relations between their complement and the rest of the context. The following list is not an exhaustive classification:

  • spatial relations: location (inclusion, exclusion, proximity), direction (origin, path, endpoint)
  • temporal relations
  • comparison: equality, opposition, price, rate
  • content: source, material, subject matter
  • agent
  • instrument, means, manner
  • cause, purpose
  • Reference

Most common adpositions are highly polysemous, and much research is devoted to the description and explanation of the various interconnected meanings of particular adpositions. In many cases a primary, spatial meaning can be identified, which is then extended to non-spatial uses by metaphorical or other processes.

In some contexts, adpositions appear in contexts where their semantic contribution is minimal, perhaps altogether absent. Such adpositions are sometimes referred to as functional or case-marking adpositions, and they are lexically selected by another element in the construction, or fixed by the construction as a whole.

  • English: dispense with formalities, listen to my advice, good at mathematics
  • Russian: otvechat' na vopros (lit. "answer on the question"), obvinenie v obmane ("accusation in [i.e. of] fraud")
  • Spanish: soñar con ganar el título ("dream with [i.e. about] winning the title"), consistir en dos grupos ("consist in [i.e. of] two groups")

It is usually possible to find some semantic motivation for the choice of a given adposition, but it is generally impossible to explain why other semantically motivated adpositions are excluded in the same context. The selection of the correct adposition in these cases is a matter of syntactic well-formedness.

Subclasses of spatial adpositions

Spatial adpositions can be divided into two main classes, namely directional and static ones. A directional adposition usually involves motion along a path over time, but can also denote a non-temporal path. Examples of directional adpositions include to, from, towards, into, along and through.

  • Bob went to the store. (movement over time)
  • A path into the woods. (non-temporal path)
  • The fog extended from London to Paris. (non-temporal path)

A static adposition normally does not involve movement. Examples of these include at, in, on, beside, behind, under and above.

  • Bob is at the store.

Directional adpositions differ from static ones in that they normally can't combine with a copula to yield a predicate, though there are some exceptions to this, as in Bob is from Australia, which may perhaps be thought of as special uses.

  • Fine: Bob is in his bedroom. (in is static)
  • Bad: *Bob is to his bedroom. (to is directional)

Directional spatial adpositions can only combine with verbs that involve motion; static prepositions can combine with other verbs as well.

  • Fine: Bob is lying down in his bedroom.
  • Bad: *Bob is lying down into/from his bedroom.

When a static adposition combines with a motion verb, it sometimes takes on a directional meaning. The following sentence can either mean that Bob jumped around in the water, or else that he jumped so that he ended up in the water.

  • Bob jumped in the water.

In some languages, directional adpositions govern a different case on their complement than static ones. These are known as casally modulated prepositions. For example, in German, directional adpositions govern accusative while static ones govern dative. Adpositions that are ambiguous between directional and static interpretations govern accusative when they are interpreted as directional, and dative when they are interpreted as static.

  • in seinem Zimmer (in his-DATIVE room) "in his room" (static)
  • in sein Zimmer (in his-ACCUSATIVE room) "into his room" (directional)

Directional adpositions can be further divided into telic ones and atelic ones. To, into and across are telic: they involve movement all the way to the endpoint denoted by their complement. Atelic ones include towards and along. When telic adpositions combine with a motion verb, the result is a telic verb phrase. Atelic adpositions give rise to atelic verb phrases when so combined.[9]

Static adpositions can be further subdivided into projective and non-projective ones. A non-projective static adposition is one whose meaning can be determined by inspecting the meaning of its complement and the meaning of the preposition itself. A projective static adposition requires, in addition, a perspective or point of view. If I say that Bob is behind the rock you need to know where I am in order to know on which side of the rock Bob is supposed to be. If I say that your pen is to the left of my book you also need to know what my point of view is. No such point of view is required in the interpretation of sentences like your pen is on the desk. Projective static prepositions can sometimes take the complement itself as "point of view," if this provides us with certain information. For example, a house normally has a front and a back, so a sentence like the following is actually ambiguous between two readings: one has it that Bob is at the back of the house; the other has it that Bob is on the other side of the house, with respect to the speaker's point of view.

  • Bob is behind the house.

A similar effect can be observed with left of, given that objects that have fronts and backs can also be ascribed lefts and rights. The sentence, My keys are to the left of the phone, can either mean that they are on the speaker's left of the phone, or on the phone's left of the phone.[10]

Classification by grammatical function

Particular uses of adpositions can be classified according to the function of the adpositional phrase in the sentence.

  • Modification
    • adverb-like
      The athlete ran {across the goal line}.
    • adjective-like
      • attributively
      A road trip {with children} is not the most relaxing vacation.
      • in the predicate position
      The key is {under the plastic rock}.
  • Syntactic functions
    • complement
      Let's dispense with the formalities.
      Here the words dispense and with complement one another, functioning as a unit to mean forego, and they share the direct object (the formalities). The verb dispense would not have this meaning without the word with to complement it.
      {In the cellar} was chosen as the best place to hide the bodies.

Adpositional languages typically single out a particular adposition for the following special functions:

  • marking possession
  • marking the agent in the passive construction
  • marking the beneficiary role in transfer relations

Overlaps with other categories

Adverbs

There are many similarities in form between adpositions and adverbs. Some adverbs are clearly derived from the fusion of a preposition and its complement, and some prepositions have adverb-like uses with no complement:

  • {down the stairs}/downstairs, {under the ground}/underground.
  • {inside (the house)}, {aboard (the plane)}, {underneath (the surface)}

It is possible to treat all of these adverbs as intransitive prepositions, as opposed to transitive prepositions, which select a complement (just like transitive vs intransitive verbs). This analysis[11] could also be extended to other adverbs, even those that cannot be used as "ordinary" prepositions with a nominal complement:

  • here, there, abroad, downtown, afterwards, …

A more conservative approach is to say simply that adverbs and adpositional phrases share many common functions.

Particles

Phrasal verbs in English are composed of a verb and a "particle" that also looks like an intransitive preposition. The same can be said for the separable verb prefixes found in Dutch and German.

  • give up, look out, sleep in, carry on, come to
  • Dutch: opbellen ("to call (by phone)"), aanbieden ("to offer"), voorstellen ("to propose")
  • German: einkaufen ("to purchase"), aussehen ("to resemble"), anbieten ("to offer")

Although these elements have the same lexical form as prepositions, in many cases they do not have relational semantics, and there is no "missing" complement whose identity can be recovered from the context.

Conjunctions

The set of adpositions overlaps with the set of subordinating conjunctions (or complementizers):

  • (preposition) before/after/since the end of the summer
  • (conjunction) before/after/since the summer ended
  • It looks like another rainy day (preposition) / it's going to rain again today (conjunction).

All of these words can be treated as prepositions if we extend the definition to allow clausal complements. This treatment could be extended further to conjunctions that are never used as ordinary prepositions:

  • unless they surrender, although time is almost up, while you were on the phone

Coverbs

In some languages, the role of adpositions is served by coverbs, words that are lexically verbs, but are generally used to convey the meaning of adpositions.

For instance, whether prepositions exist in Chinese is sometimes considered an open question. Coverbs are often referred to as prepositions because they appear before the noun phrase they modify. However, unlike prepositions, coverbs can sometimes stand alone as main verbs. For instance, in Standard Mandarin, dào can be used in a prepositional or a verb sense:

  • ("to travel") is the main verb: 我北京去。dào Běijīng qù. ("I travel to Beijing.")
  • dào ("to arrive") is the main verb: 我了。dào le. ("I have arrived.")

Case affixes

From a functional point of view, adpositions and morphological case markings are strikingly similar. An adpositional phrase in one language often corresponds directly to a case-marked noun phrase in another language. For example, the agentive noun phrase in the passive construction in English is introduced by the preposition by, while in Russian it is marked by the instrumental case: "oy", "om", or "ami", depending on the noun's gender and number. Sometimes both prepositions and cases can be observed within a single language. For example, in certain uses the genitive case in German is interchangeable with a von prepositional phrase.

Despite this functional similarity, adpositions and case markings are distinct grammatical categories:

  • Adpositions combine syntactically with their complement phrase. Case markings combine with a noun morphologically.
  • Two adpositions can usually be joined with a conjunction and share a single complement, but this is normally not possible with case markings:
{of and for the people} vs. Latin populi et populo, not *populi et -o ("people-genitive and -dative")
  • One adposition can usually combine with two coordinated complements, but this is normally not possible with case markings:
of {the city and the world} vs. Latin urbis et orbis, not *urb- et orbis ("city and world-genitive")
  • Case markings combine primarily with nouns, whereas adpositions can combine with phrases of many different categories.
  • A case marking usually appears directly on the noun, but an adposition can be separated from the noun by other words.
  • Within the noun phrase, determiners and adjectives may agree with the noun in case (case spreading), but an adposition only appears once.
  • A language can have hundreds of adpositions (including complex adpositions), but no language has this many distinct morphological cases.

Still, it can be difficult to draw a clear boundary between case markings and adpositions. For example, the post-nominal elements in Japanese and Korean are sometimes called case particles and sometimes postpositions. Sometimes they are analysed as two different groups because they have different characteristics (e.g. ability to combine with focus particles), but in such analysis, it is unclear which words should fall into which group.

  • Japanese: 電車 (densha de, "by train")
  • Korean: 한국 (Hangug-e, "to Korea")

Turkish and Finnish have both extensive case-marking and postpositions, and here there is evidence to help distinguish the two:

  • Turkish: (case) sinemaya (cinema-dative, "to the cinema") vs (postposition) sinema için ("for the cinema")
  • Finnish: (case) talossa (house-inessive, "in the house") vs (postposition) "talon edessä (house-gen in-front, "in front of the house")

In these examples, the case markings form a word with their hosts (as shown by vowel harmony, other word-internal effects and agreement of adjectives in Finnish), while the postpositions are independent words.

Some languages, like Sanskrit, use postpositions to emphasize the meaning of the grammatical cases, and eliminate possible ambiguities in the meaning of the phrase. For example: रामेण सह (Rāmeṇa saha, "in company of Rāma"). In this example, "Rāmeṇa" is in the instrumental case, but, as its meaning can be ambiguous,the postposition saha is being used to emphasize the meaning of company.

In Indo-European languages, each case often contains several different endings, some of which may even be derived from different roots. An ending is chosen depending on gender, number, whether the word is a noun or a modifier, and other factors.

Word choice

In ambiguous cases, there is not always a clear rule which adposition is appropriate, and different languages and regional dialects may have different conventions; the standard usage(s) of a given preposition can be idiomatic. Learning the conventionally preferred word is a matter of exposure to examples. For example, most dialects of American English have "to wait in line", but some have "to wait on line". It is for this reason that prepositions are one of the most difficult aspects of a language to learn for non-native speakers.[12]. Where an adposition is required in one language, it may not be in another. While translating some text, therefore, adpositions must be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, and one may be either supplied or omitted. Those learning English may have difficulty distinguishing between the prepositions on, in, and at, as other languages may use only one or two prepositions for the equivalent of three in English. On the other hand, speakers of English learning Spanish or Portuguese have difficulty distinguishing between the prepositions por and para, as both frequently mean for in English.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ An example is Huddleston & Pullum (2002) ("CGEL"), whose choice of terms is discussed on p. 602.
  2. ^ Although seemingly appropriate, the term adpositional phrase is little used. CGEL, p. 602.
  3. ^ WordCount website
  4. ^ Duden: Neue Rechtschreibung Crashkurs (Regel 11).
  5. ^ CGEL, p. 618ff; Pullum (2005).
  6. ^ Quirk and Mulholland (1964).
  7. ^ Haspelmath, "Adpositions"; citing Martin Haspelmath et al., eds, World Atlas of Language Structures (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005).
  8. ^ Haspelmath, "Adpositions".
  9. ^ Zwarts, Joost. 2005. "Prepositional Aspect and the Algebra of Paths." Linguistics and Philosophy 28.6, 739–779.
  10. ^ Creswell, Max. 1978. "Prepositions and points of view." Linguistics and Philosophy, 2: 1–41.
  11. ^ Notably that of CGEL, pp. 612–16.
  12. ^ And for native speakers, too. Regarding the use and misuse of prepositions see David Thatcher, Saving Our Prepositions: A Guide for the Perplexed (http://www.savingourprepositions.com)

References

  • Bennett, David C. (1975) Spatial and Temporal Uses of English Prepositions: An Essay in Stratificational Semantics. London: Longman.
  • Emonds, Joseph E. (1985) A Unified Theory of Syntactic Categories. Dordrecht: Foris.
  • Haspelmath, Martin. (2003) "Adpositions". International Encyclopedia of Linguistics. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-513977-1.
  • Huddleston, Rodney, and Geoffrey K. Pullum. (2002) The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-43146-8.
  • Jackendoff, Ray S. (1973) "Base Rules for PPs". In S. R. Anderson and P. Kiparsky (eds), A Festschrift for Morris Halle, pp. 345–356. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.
  • Koopman, Hilda. (2000) "Prepositions, postpositions, circumpositions, and particles". In The Syntax of Specifiers and Heads, pp. 204–260. London: Routledge.
  • Libert, Alan R. (2006) Ambipositions. LINCOM studies in language typology (No. 13). LINCOM. ISBN 3-89586-747-0.
  • Maling, Joan. (1983) "Transitive adjectives: A case of categorial reanalysis". In F. Heny and B. Richards (eds), Linguistic Categories: Auxiliaries and Related Puzzles, Vol. 1, pp. 253–289. Dordrecht: Reidel.
  • Melis, Ludo. (2003) La préposition en français. Gap: Ophrys.
  • Pullum, Geoffrey K. (2005) "Phrasal Prepositions in a Civil Tone." Language Log. Accessed 9 September 2007.
  • Quirk, Randolph, and Joan Mulholland. (1964) "Complex Prepositions and Related Sequences". English Studies, suppl. to vol. 45, pp. 64–73.
  • Rauh, Gisa. (1991) Approaches to Prepositions. Tübingen: Gunter Narr.
  • Reindl, Donald F. (2001) "Areal Effects on the Preservation and Genesis of Slavic Postpositions". In Lj. Šarić and D. F. Reindl On Prepositions (= Studia Slavica Oldenburgensia 8), pp. 85-100. Oldenburg: Carl-von-Ossietzky-Universitat Oldenburg.
  • Thatcher, David (2008) Saving Our Prepositions: A Guide for the Perplexedby angel martinez

External links


Simple English

Prepositions are words or word groups which begin a noun phrase with more than one word. Most prepositions tell where or when, or show possession.

Prepositions like in, beside, above, and out of all tell where, and are usually used with nouns or pronouns. Some examples with the phrases underlined: "The man sat close to his wife. He put his arm around her shoulder. Then he kissed her on the cheek."

Prepositions like right after, until, during, and before all tell when. "Mr. Prasad had an important meeting until ten o'clock. During the meeting, his cell phone rang. It was his wife. She asked him to come straight home right after work."

The prepositions of and to are used to show possession, or belonging-to: "This book belongs to Vlad. The cover of the book is torn."

Here is a list of Prepositions:


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