October 29, 2020

Grammatical Name and Functions of Prepositions

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This post is going to show you how to identify and state the functions of prepositions.

Definition of preposition

The Cambridge Dictionary defines a preposition as “A word which is used before a noun, a noun phrase or a pronoun, connecting it to another word”

e.g. We jumped into the lake

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She drove slowly down the track

Technically therefore the preposition is that word which expresses a relationship between two entities be they objects, actions, movements etc.

  • Some very commong propositions are: In, on, of, off, at, after, before, into, onto, for, with, to , under, behind, below, beneath etc.  They are simple prepositions

i) Adverb / preposition + preposition: e.g. He stood away from  the crowd.

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ii)  Verb/adjectives/conjunction + proposition e.g. because of, depend on, responsible for

iii) Preposition + Noun + Preposition: e.g. by dint of, under the auspices of

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Functions of prepositions

The functions of prepositions vary depending very much on the context within which they appear.

  • A preposition expresses a relationship between two entities (objects actions, etc) in terms of:

i) Place:

The boy is standing under the tree (i.e. it expresses the relationship between the boy and the tree in terms of place)

ii) Time:

The examination will take place on Monday

iii) Instrument:

He stabbed  the murderer with a dagger.

iv) Accompaniment:

He walked in the park with his mistress.

v)  Reason / purpose:

They killed him for money

  • A preposition introduces a prepositional phrase.

e.g. He met her behind the house.

  • A preposition may function as an adverb.

This constitutes one of the most interesting functions of prepositions.

Consider the following sentences.

E.g. Stay off. (Place)

Get inside. (Place)

The bench is outside. (Place)

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Ralph Nyadzi

Ralph has a passion for the teaching and learning of Language and Literature mainly because these two help him to understand and appreciate why people act the way they do. Over the past two decades, he has coached over 5000 students and adult learners to achieve their educational goals. Ralph is the founder and CEO of Cegast Academy.

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