Semantic and Functional Peculiarities of Preposition in Modern English

9 September 2016

Understanding the importance of the English language more and more people in the world want to learn and to know English. Prepositions pose more problems for the non-native speaker or learner of English than any other part of speech, because they are not used in the same way in different languages. This topic was investigated by such researchers and scientists as Tom Cole, Yates Jean, James Heaton, Seth Lindstromberg, O’Dowd Elizabeth, Prieur Charles & Speyer Elizabeth. Object – prepositions in Modern English. Subject – classification of prepositions in Modern English and their usage.

Aim – to highlight different classification of English prepositions and explain their usage. Objectives – 1. Give general characteristics of the preposition as a part of speech. 2. Reveal the Morphological classification of English prepositions. 3. Characterize functional classes of the prepositions. 4. Examine the Idiomatic expressions with prepositions and their speech functions. Methods – 1. Analysis of the scientific literature on grammar of the English language 2.

We will write a custom essay sample on
Semantic and Functional Peculiarities of Preposition in Modern English
or any similar topic specifically for you
Do Not Waste
Your Time
HIRE WRITER

Only $13.90 / page

Comparison, juxtaposition of the information and generalization of the research’s results.

CHAPTER 1 1. 1. General characteristics of the preposition as a part of speech Learning about the parts of speech is the first step in grammar study just as learning the letters of the alphabet is the first step to being able to read and write. From learning the parts of speech we begin to understand the use or function of words and how words are joined together to make meaningful communication. [13]. ‘In modern linguistics, parts of speech are discriminated on the basis of the three criteria: “semantic”, “formal” and “functional”.

In accord with the described criteria, words on the upper level of classification are divided into notional and functional’ [5]. Preposition belongs to the functional parts of speech and expresses the dependencies and interdependencies of substantive referents. 1) Meaning. The meaning of prepositions is obviously that of relations between things and phenomena. 2) Form. Prepositions are invariable. 3) Function. (a) Prepositions enter into phrases in which they are preceded by a noun, adjective, numeral, stative, verb or adverb, and followed by a noun, adjective, numeral or pronoun. b) In a sentence a preposition never is a separate part of it. It goes together with the following word to form an object, adverbial modifier, predicative or attribute, and in extremely rare cases a subject. [7] A preposition is a word which shows the relationships between a noun or a pronoun and other word in the sentence. Prepositions are usually (but not always) placed before noun or pronoun which they govern. Prepositions are use in order to add up emphasis in the sentences. These words are often compound with other parts of speech like conjunctions, verbs and even with adverbs.

When that happens, it gradually forms a new word which acts as a preposition and thus giving more meaning in the sentence. The lexical meaning of the preposition is rather unclear. The function of prepositions in English is to connect nouns (and noun-like constructions) to other parts of the sentence. It is impossible to speak or understand English well without a good knowledge of the use and meaning of prepositions, and this knowledge cannot be acquired from the dictionary; it ust be gained in practice and experience. Most prepositions are short words, and they are almost always spoken with weak stress in the sentence. The listener has to be alert for them. Nevertheless, these little words carry important elements of meaning, as we have seen. [9] They express such ideas as location, destination, direction of motion, time, manner, agent, and many others. Prepositions and prepositional phrase perform ten main grammatical functions within sentences in the English language. There are ten main functions of prepositions and prepositional phrases: 1.

Head of preposition phrase 2. Noun phrase modifier 3. Noun phrase complement 4. Adjective phrase modifier 5. Adjective phrase complement 6. Verb phrase modifier 7. Verb phrase complement 8. Adjunct 9. Adverbial 10. Particle 11. These functions are discussed in the following paragraphs. Heads of Prepositional Phrases. Prepositions first function as the heads of prepositional phrases. The head of a phrase is the defining word type of that phrase. For example, the heads of noun phrases are nouns, and the heads of verb phrases are verbs. Modifiers of Phrases.

Prepositional phrases secondly function as modifiers and complements of noun phrases, adjective phrases, and verb phrases. Words and phrases that function as modifiers modify or define other words and phrases. Complements of Phrases. Words and phrases that function as complements act to complete the meaning of other words and phrases. The main difference between modifiers and complements is that modifiers are optional and can be replaced by any number of other prepositional phrases while complements are often required. Adjuncts and Adverbials. Prepositional phrases also function as adjuncts and adverbials in sentences.

Adjuncts frame an entire sentence and are optional. Adverbials are similar to adjuncts because adverbials also provide additional information about an entire sentence and are optional. Adverbials, however, express information such as time, place, manner, condition, reason, or purpose of an entire sentence. Adjuncts and adverbials are both optional because their addition and removal does not change the meaning of the main sentence. Particles. Finally, prepositions function as particles in phrasal verbs. Phrasal verbs are verbs that consist of a verb and one or more prepositions.

So, preposition is a functional part of speech which function is to connect nouns or pronouns to other word in the sentence. They can function in the sentence as heads of prepositional phrase, modifiers of phrases, complements of phrases, adjuncts, adverbials and particles. [12] 1. 2. Morphological classification of English prepositions There are a lot of classifications of the prepositions according to different criteria. Scientists have some differences in classification of this part of speech. On its shape the prepositions are divided on simple, complex or compound.

It is the most common classification. The simple prepositions are those which are not dividable on componential parts. We refer here the most ancient English prepositions which are mostly monosyllabic, such as in, on, at, by, to, with, from, of etc. Simple prepositions can possess a varied number of semantic and contextual meanings. Compound prepositions can be divided into two groups: * two-word units (a word + a simple preposition), such as apart from * three-word units (a simple preposition + a noun + a simple preposition), such as by means of. 14] The Compound prepositions mainly have one meaning, corresponding to the meaning of a meaningful word falling into the compound of the preposition. Composite or phrasal prepositions include a word of another class and one or two prepositions, as in by virtue of, but for, because of, by means of, instead of, on account of, thanks to, with reference to, opposite to, in front of, for the sake of, in spite of, for the sake of, except for, due to, in addition to, with regard to, on behalf of, in line with.

A composite preposition is indivisible both syntactically and semantically, that is, no element of it can be varied, abbreviated, or extended according to the normal rules of syntax. There are also derived prepositions which are formed from other words, mainly participles: excepting, concerning, considering, following, including, during, depending, granted, past, except . [8] According to the” English Prepositions Explained” by Seth Lindstromberg there are following classification: Table 1. Classification by specificity of meaning[2] General| Specific| yinonunder | alongside, beside, next to, in front of…Into, inside, withinonto, on top ofbelow, beneath, underneath| Classification by shape of the Landmark [2] 1. The Landmark is seen as an container/enclosure, space, or medium (e. g. water, air): * It’s in/out of the room. (location) * It went into/out of/through the room. (movement along a path) * It scattered papers through out/all through the room. (distribution) 2. The Landmark is seen as a surface: * It’s lying on/off/across the carpet. (location) * It went onto/off/across the carpet. movement along a path) * It scattered papers all across the carpet. (distribution) 3. The Landmark is seen as long and narrow: * There’s a ditch along the road. (location) * Go along the road. (movement along a path) * They scattered litter all along the road. (distribution) 4. The Landmark is seen as a point on a potential or actual path: * It’s toward/at/away from the school. (location) * We went to/from/via the school. (movement along a path) The very different classification is shown in this table says relatively little about word meaning at all: Table 2.

Classification by (in)transitivity [2] Grammaticalbehavior| Exampleprepositions| Exampleof normal usage| Exampleof odd usage| Transitive | into| He crashed into a tree. | He crashed into. (I. e. There must be a grammatical object)| Transitive orintransitive| in| Let’s go in the house. Let’s go in. | -| Intransitive| away| Go away. | Go away me. (I. e. there can be nogrammatical object. )| Table 3. Classification by number of quite distinct meanings [2]

Few meanings| Several meanings| underneath toward(s) away below against of on| by| Table 4. Classification by frequency [2] High| Medium| Low| to, of, in, on, for, with, at, from, by, up, out* | below| alongside, underneath| *More or less in this order, these 11 prepositions are likely to appear in lists of the 50 highest frequency word forms of English (e. g. O’Keeffe, et al. 2007: 34–36). Table 5. Classification by register (~ degree of formality) [2] Formal| concerning, regarding| Usable in all registers| abou| Informal| ‘bout| Table 6.

Classification by source languages [2] Germanic (Old Englishor Scandinavian):| Latin| Greek | at, by, for,to… from, in, off, on, out, overthrough, till, to, under, with…| Direct from Latin:cum, per, qua, pro, versus, via… | meta, parallel | | Via French:across,concerning, regarding… | | We can see various classifications of English prepositions. They can be classified by shape, by specificity of meaning, by shape of Landmark, by (in)transitivity, by number of quite distinct meanings, by frequency, by register, by source language, etc. 1. 3.

Functional classes of prepositions There is also semantic classification. Prepositions can be used to express a wide range of semantic relations between their complement and the rest of the context. The most popular classification single out three types of prepositions: 1. Preposition of Time; 2. Preposition of Place and location; 3. Preposition of Direction (Movement). Prepositions of time – used to show when something happened. 1. For one particular point in time: Use on for the days of the week: * Joe will be leaving on Saturday. * Harvey gets paid on Friday.

Use at for time of day and also for the words noon, night, midnight: * Peter’s friends are arriving at 10 a. m. * The class starts at noon. * The fireworks show will begin at midnight. Use in for other parts of the day, and with months, years, seasons: * It gets cold here in December. * Connie was born in the fall. 2. For other periods of time: since, for, by, from _____to, from _____until, during, within: * Samantha will be on vacation for three weeks. (She has three weeks of vacation time. ) * Cameron was busy painting his house from June to September. beginning in June and ending in September. ) [15] Prepositions of place are used to describe the place or position of nouns. Prepositions expressing place or location (spatial relations) are classed as: 1) prepositions of location and 2) prepositions of direction. They may be either positive or negative. Prepositions of location are used with verbs describing states or conditions (“be” and its forms are the most commonly used verbs), and prepositions of direction are used with action verbs. * The sale is at the mall. (the sale exists, is—a state of being) * We went to the sale. we performed an action—we went) To express ideas about a place 1. Talking about something that is within the parameters of a place: Use in: * with spaces: in a house, in a field, in a bar, in a cafe “There’s a strange sound in the basement. ” * with bodies of water: in the pool, in the pond, in the ocean, in the bathtub * with lines: in a line, in a row Examples: * ” I don’t want to wait on line at the bank. ” * “When you get to the airport, get in line immediately, if you don’t want to have to wait for 2 hours. Use on: 2. Talking about the surface of a place: * “Larry left these books on the steps. * with surfaces: on the wall, on the floor, on the chair * with small islands: I shopped on (the Isle of) Capri last year. When we went sailing, we stayed on   (the island of)  Bora Bora overnight. * with directions: on ahead, on the left, on the side, on the top Use at: 3. Talking about the actual location of a place (point):   * “Martha met Donald at the movies. ” * with places: at the store, at the races, at the movies * with places on a page: at the middle, at the top, at the bottom of the page * for groups of people: at the front of the audience, at the side of the crowd, at he front of the congregation   Note: In / at / on the corner: You can say in the corner of a room, but at or on the corner of the street. In / at / on the front:  You can say in the front or in the back of a bus, or a plane, or a car, BUT at the front of a store, or at the front of a crowd, or at the front of a line of people. Something is on the front /on the back of a sheet of paper, BUT you write in a notebook, or on the cover of the notebook. Note: When you say “I just wrote it on my notebook. “, that means that you just wrote something on the cover of the book, not inside the book on a page.

Other prepositions used for location: higher, lower, closer to, and farther from a point:   1. Talking about an object higher than a particular point: over, above * The horse jumped over the fence. * The balloons were floating above our heads, but I couldn’t catch any of them. 2. Talking about an object lower than a point: under, *underneath, beneath, below. In American English, when we use the word underneath, there’s a subtle meaning of many things having been put on top of whatever is underneath. When we use under, most of the time (not always) there’s only one thing over, or on top of whatever is under it.

If I’m under the bed, the bed is the only thing over me. If my diamond ring is lost at a garbage dump, the ring is buried underneath tons and tons of garbage. * “Victoria already looked under the sofa for Jerry’s glasses. ” * “Pete hid under the bed when he heard thunder. ” * “The papers you’ve been looking for are underneath that pile of books. ”   3. Close to a point: near, by, (nearby) next to, between, among, opposite, against, beside, along, around, inside of, across, within * “Belinda lives near an air base. ” (not ‘near to’! ) “There’s a gas station next to the grocery store. ” * “Love is all around us. ” 4. Approaching or leaving a point: toward, ahead of, behind, from, out of, through * “He came toward the house with a grim look on his face. ” * “It came from outer space and landed in New Mexico. ” [15] Prepositions of Movement are used to show movement. The most common preposition of movement or direction is to. To indicates orientation toward a goal. If the goal is a physical one (the store, a party, the kitchen, etc. ), to shows movement toward that point.

If the goal is not an actual place, but is an action or a thought, to is used with another verb in the infinitive form and expresses purpose (in order to). Both meanings of the word to can be used in the same sentence: “Paul went to Lucy’s house to deliver the gift. ” (Lucy’s house is the physical destination, and Paul’s purpose is in order to deliver the gift’. ) Uses of “to”: a) The preposition to is used as an ordinary preposition with verbs of communication such as listen, speak, relate (as in telling someone something), appeal (meaning ‘pleading’, not as in ‘be attractive to’) * Betty began to speak on the microphone. ) The preposition to is used as an ordinary preposition with verbs of movement such as move, go, transfer, walk, run, swim, ride, drive,  fly, travel. *   Maryann needed to drive to the cabin. She had planned to fly there, but then changed her plans. Note: All these verbs (except transfer) can be used with toward, as well as with to. Be aware that to suggests movement toward a specific point, and toward suggests movement in a general direction without actually arriving at a specific goal or destination. * I have to go home now. (I must arrive at my home. ) ) The preposition to can be added to a verb in order to create an infinitive. (to walk, to think, to eat, etc. ) This use of to shows: willingness, purpose, obligation, desire, or intent. * I will agree to let you join us. (I am willing to allow you to be with us. ) [15] Some scientists single out some more types: 1. Preposition for Time 2. Preposition for Place 3. Preposition for Direction 4. Preposition for Agent 5. Preposition for Instrument 6. Prepositional Phrase Preposition for agent is used for a thing which is cause of another thing in the sentence.

Such prepositions are by, with etc. Following examples will help in better understanding. [16] Examples: * This book is written by Shakespeare. * The tub is filled with water. So, according to the semantic classification of the prepositions they divided into three types: prepositions of time, place and direction. The first are used to show when something happened. The second are used to describe the place or position of nouns. The third are used to show movement. 1. 4. Idiomatic expressions with prepositions and their speech functions The Prepositional Idioms

A prepositional idiom consists of a verb followed by a preposition, but unlike an ordinary prepositional phrase, it forms an expression with a nonliteral or idiomatic meaning. Some grammarians consider the prepositional idiom a type of a phrasal verb, others call it the phrasal verb itself, and still others call it a verb phrase. Anyway we call it, however, the distinguishing characteristic of a prepositional idiom is that its meaning is largely determined by the preposition that comes after the verb; in fact, a single verb can yield as many as five or many more meanings depending on the preposition that comes after it.

For example, the verb “back,” which literally means “to support by material or moral assistance” or “to cause to go back or in reverse,” yields at least nine different meanings when followed by different prepositions, as follows: * back down – cease defending one’s position in a debate or argument. Example: He’s not the type who’ll back down from a fight because of veiled threats. * back away – get out from a previous commitment. Example: The consortium partner backed away from the deal for undisclosed reasons. * back out – renege from a promise or deal.

Example: The boxer backed out from the title fight due to disagreements over the prize money. * back up (1) – provide support to someone or something. Example:  The reporter was asked to back up his expose with documentary evidence. * back up (2) – move backwards or in reverse. Example: She backed up the car so fast that it hit the lamppost. * back out of – not keep a promise or deal. Example:  His lawyer backed out of the case the day before the trial. * back into – hit something while moving backwards. Example: She backed into a lamppost while getting out of the parking slot. back off – escape or run away from something. Example: The police told the demonstrators to back off or face dispersal. * back of – unspoken self-knowledge about the outcome of something Example: He decided to fight, but back of his mind he knew that it was a losing battle. [10] The prepositional idioms or phrasal verbs are much more vulnerable to misuse than ordinary prepositional phrases because the specific preposition to use for each of them isn’t intuitive and doesn’t always follow a definite logic; in fact, their nonliteral meanings can be learned only after one gets adequate immersion in the language.

They should therefore be used with caution—and only when the writer or speaker has sufficiently internalized their meaning and the situations or occasions for which they are appropriate. The English language actually has thousands of prepositional idioms or phrasal verbs and there’s really no way for us to know all of them all at once. Indeed, to be able to use them with confidence in our writing or speech, we have no choice but to seriously study them and commit them to memory. [10] A phrasal verb is a combination of a verb and one or more prepositions plus possible other words in addition.

A key feature of a phrasal verb is that the whole combination of words should function as a lexical unit that has its own meaning. This meaning may be relatively literal as in pick up (litter) ~ ‘gather and remove (litter)’, or not. But when students and teachers speak of phrasal verbs, it is generally the ones which are (semi) idiomatic that they have mind – e. g. the semi-idiomatic get over (a cold) and the very idiomatic put up with (bad behaviour). As it happens, grammarians tend to divide multi-word verbs into the following three classes: –– True phrasal verbs: e. g. look up a word/look word up, in which up is considered to be a ‘particle’ rather than a full-blooded preposition. –– Prepositional verbs: e. g. look after a cat (look a cat after), in which after is considered to be a preposition whose grammatical object is a cat. –– Phrasal-prepositional verbs: e. g. put up with bad behavior, each of which is considered to consist of a phrasal verb (put up) followed by a prepositional phrase (with bad behavior). Phrasal verbs function as semantic units; that is to say, they have a meaning as a whole. Often their meaning cannot be inferred from the sum of the meanings of the individual words.

For this reason, the meaning of phrasal verbs must be memorized as a whole. For example, run into = meet (someone) by accident, talk over = discuss (something), look up = seek (a word) in a reference book, turn on = start the operation of (an appliance), turn off = stop the operation of (an appliance), wait on = serve (someone at a restaurant), look over = examine (a test), look into = investigate. Likewise, phrasal verbs are grammatical units that fulfill normal English verb functions in sentences. They may be transitive or intransitive verbs; i. e. , they may or may not be followed by noun phrases or object pronouns (direct objects).

E. g. , I wanted to call up the department store, but I didn’t have its number. He got off at the corner. I haven’t seen my dog for a while; I’m looking for him. If you don’t know the meaning of a word, look it up in a dictionary. Phrasal verbs must be differentiated from normal verb + preposition sequences (also referred to as verb + prepositional phrases). Firstly, phrasal verbs have a stress-placement pattern similar to that of compound words; they have the secondary stress on the verb (the first word) and a primary stress on the function word (the second word).

Secondly, unlike phrasal verbs, in verb + preposition combinations both the verb and the prepositions are generally used in their literal meanings. On the other hand, although the meaning of two-word verbs cannot be guessed from the individual meanings of their component words, they can often be paraphrased by using another (usually single-word) verb. For instance, bring about = cause, bring up = raise, care for (someone) from childhood, call off = cancel (a meeting), call on = visit, carry on = continue, carry out = fulfill, complete; come across = discover accidentally.

Thirdly, in preposition + verb combinations, the preposition and the following noun phrase form an adverbial prepositional phrase, which can be used as an answer to a question with where. With phrasal verbs, we ask questions with what or who(m) and the answer is usually the direct object, if the verb is transitive. [11] So, the prepositional idiom or phrasal verb is a combination of a verb and one or more prepositions plus possible other words in addition. This whole combination of words should function as a lexical unit that has its own meaning. Phrasal verbs are grammatical units that fulfill normal English verb functions in sentences.

But they must be differentiated from normal verb + preposition sequence. Conclusions to the chapter Learning about the parts of speech is the first step in grammar study just as learning the letters of the alphabet is the first step to being able to read and write. Prepositions pose more problems for the non-native speaker or learner of English than any other part of speech, because they are not used in the same way in different languages. Preposition belongs to the functional parts of speech and expresses the dependencies and interdependencies of substantive referents.

The function of prepositions in English is to connect nouns (and noun-like constructions) to other parts of the sentence. They can function in the sentence as heads of prepositional phrase, modifiers of phrases, complements of phrases, adjuncts, adverbials and particles. There are a lot of classifications of the prepositions according to different criteria. They can be classified by shape, by specificity of meaning, by shape of Landmark, by (in)transitivity, by number of quite distinct meanings, by frequency, by register, by source language, etc.

According to the semantic classification of the prepositions they divided into three types: prepositions of time, place and direction. The first are used to show when something happened. The second are used to describe the place or position of nouns. The third are used to show movement. A prepositional idiom consists of a verb followed by a preposition, but unlike an ordinary prepositional phrase, it forms an expression with a nonliteral or idiomatic meaning. Resume In terms of the present-day importance of learning English, people should know how to use prepositions.

Educational significance of the problem of using the prepositions in the speech defines the choice of the topic for our investigation: “Semantic and functional peculiarities of prepositions in Modern English” The course paper consists of the introduction, one part and six tables. The general number is 23 pages. The list of the used literature consists of 17 sources. The work contains general characteristics of the preposition as a part of speech, morphological and semantic classifications of the preposition and idiomatic expressions with the prepositions.

How to cite this essay

Choose cite format:
Semantic and Functional Peculiarities of Preposition in Modern English. (2016, Sep 25). Retrieved July 12, 2019, from https://newyorkessays.com/essay-semantic-and-functional-peculiarities-of-preposition-in-modern-english/
A limited
time offer!
Get authentic custom
ESSAY SAMPLEwritten strictly according
to your requirements