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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About Ralph Nyadzi

Ralph is a professional blogger, founder and CEO of RN Digital Media Ent. He spends his day working as an online entrepreneur, e-learning strategist and a test prep coach. If you can't locate him anywhere on the web, just doing what he knows how to do best, check him out on his farm or in the kitchen. He lives with four cats in the Central Region of his native country, Ghana.

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