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English Prepositions


Englische Präpositionen: Abgrenzung von Konjunktionen, Adverben, Phrasal Verbs, Prepositional Verbs

Englische Präpositionen: lokal, temporal, kausal, Dimension, of

Englische Präpositionen: under, underneath, beneath, up-down, above, below, over

Englische Präpositionen: Zusammenfassung


1. What is a preposition?

- Prepositions belong to the closed word classes
- You can find complemented prepositions in the following places, before:
*nouns:                  I gave the book to Charlie. 
*pronouns:             I gave it to him.
*ing-clauses:          Charlie devotes his time to reading.
*wh-clauses:          I told her about what he had done.
Prepositions are not followed by `to-infinitives´.

There is a difference between the preposition `to´ and the particle `to´ + infinitive:
We look forward to seeing you/ to your visit (preposition)
We hope to see you soon. (to-particle + infinitive)


2. Different kinds of prepositions:

- simple prepositions: they consist of one word: in, on, at, by, to, ...
- complex prepositions: a) two-word sequences: + Because of the raining weather...
+ I sat next to an old person...
b) three-word sequences: as a result of, in line with, in front of,
on top of
- marginal prepositions: they behave like normal prepositions, but derive from words belonging to other word classes; they use the -ing- and -ed-ending to change the word class: expecting, concerning, regarding, following, mentioned oder including.

3. Distinguishing prepositions and other word classes:
- prepositions and conjunctions:

Both prepositions and conjunctions connect sentences.
since this morning. (Präposition)
I haven’t seen him     <
since he left this morning. (Konjunktion) 

she arrived. (Konjunktion)
The day before    <
her arrival. (Präposition)
Conjunctions connect 2 sentences or introduce a  clause, prepositions have complements which are nominal or nominalized.

- Phrasal Verbs and Prepositional Verbs

Phrasal verb:            She rang her boy friend up.
She rang up her boy friend.
Prepositional verb:   She applied for a scholarship.
*She applied a scholarship for.    
Both Phrasal verbs and prepositional verbs consist of a verb + one or two prepositions. There is no particle shifting with Prepositional verbs.
- Präposition und Adverb
Examples: She looked up the hill. (preposition)
She looked up the word. (adverb particle of a phrasal verb)
prepositional phrase: `up the hill´
phrasal verb: `look up´

4. Meaning of prepositions
4.1.local prepositions

June is at the supermarket. >point
Something is on the table.  >surface
There are nails and a hammer in the box. >container

- Direction

I was at home. I went to town. I was in town.
Moving verbs like go, run, rush, travel, fly + prepositions like at, to, away, from, off, around etc.

- relative position or relative destination

prepositions like by, under, over etc. 
below, beneath, above, on the top of, underneath are used with a horizontal axis.
before, in front of, behind are used with a vertical axis.

- Passage

a movement through a place: across, through, past, by, over, under etc.
He creeped under a table.

- Direction

Expressing a direction along a line or crossing it: up, down, along, across and (a)round

- Orientation

A point where a speaker is situated from where he/she does something.
beyond, over and past
There is a newsagent’s across/ over the road.

4.2. temporal prepositions
The usage of at:

points of time, meals, holidays, age

The usage of  on:

weekdays, parts of the day, data, anniversaries, festivities

The usage of in:

parts of the day, months, years, seasons, festivities
Duration is expressed by: for, in, within, over, all through, throughout usw.
„I finished the examination in (within) an hour and half.“

4.3. cause

Cause prepositions answer to the question WHY?
because of, on account of, for oder from.
I hid the money, for fear of what my parents would say.
-a reason: He’ll do anything for money.
-a goal: He set out for London.
-a recipient: He cooked a dinner for her.

4.3. Further Prepositional Meanings

Manner: in...manner, like oder with anführen.
Bill writes poetry like his brother.

Means / instruments:

Prepositions of of means and instrument express HOW? something functions: by, with oder without.
I usually go to work by bus, train, car, boat.
I drew it without using a ruler.


In the passive the acting person is shown by a  by-phrase ausgedrückt (by + acting person)
We were observed by a passing stranger.
other areas are:
°stimulus prepositions: at, by
°accompany: with
°support: for, with, against

6. Metaphorische Bedeutungen von Präpositionen
Image schemas:

Image schemas are relations like for example `up-down´, `in-out´, `front-back´ or `left-right´. Those pairs are always seen in connection to an axis. They are also used when we talk about abstract things. Metaphores are used to translate bodily experiences into abstract circumstances.
Since certain metaphores are so deeply entrenched in everyday human thought, Lakoff & Johnson (1980) call these“metaphores we live by“. Elsewhere they have been called“conceptual metaphores.


The thing we exactly see is called figure, the background is called ground.
bild s.157
The ground: unstructured, formless, uniform
The figure: form, conture, coherent
The trajector: most clearly visible figure
The landmark: background

6.1.1. Using the image schemas
image schema of out:

The trajector is first within the landmark (e.g. landmark = room) and moves out afterwards.

image schema of up:

The path of the trajector moves up vertically; the landmark is only relevant because its.vertical extend.

6.1.2. The UP-DOWN-Schema

Normally the prepositions above, over and up are regarded to be positive; whereas below, beneath, down, under and underneath are regarded to be negative.

6.2. Down

Down describes a movement which goes down, e.g.: He fell down from the roof.
* landmark = point at the one or the other end of the tunnel an object falls through
* trajector = vertical downward movement
Schemata having to do with DOWN:

> DOWN (in connection with rivers)
> DOWN (the city centre is down)
Down is usually used in a dynamic way, the trajector’s movement along a  path. (static = the trajector doesn’t move.

6. Bibliography:

*Alexander, L. G.. Longman English Grammar. London / New York: Longman, 1988.
*Collins Publishers. Collins Cobuild English Grammar. London: William Collins Sons &  Co Ltd, 1990.
*Quirk, Randolph, et al. A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language. London: Longman, 1985.
°Boers, Frank. Spatial Prepositions and Metaphor.Tübingen: Narr, 1996.
°Herbst, Thomas, und Stoll, Rita, und Westermayr, Rudolf. Terminologie der Sprachbeschreibung. Ismaning: Max Hueber Verlag, 1991.
°Radden, Günter. „Spatial Metaphores Underlying Prepositions of Causality.“ L.A.U.T. 114 (1983): 1-15.
°Ungerer, Friedrich, und Schmid, Hans-Jörg. An Introduction to Cognitive Linguistics. New York: Addison Wesley Longman, 1996.
°Wollmann, Alfred. Präpositionalphrasen im Englischen. Tübingen: Narr, 1996.



einteilige Präpositionen:

as, at, but, by, down, for, from, in, like, near (to), of, off, on, out, past, per, pro, qua, re, round, sans, since, than, through, till, to, up, via, with, about, above, across, after, against, along, amid(st), among(st), anti, around, atop, before, behind, below, beneath, beside, besides, between, beyond, circa, despite, during, except, inside, into, notwithstanding, onto, opposite, outside, over, pace, pending, throughout, toward(s), under, underneath, unlike, until, upon, versus, vis-à-vis, within, without


zweiteilige Präpositionen:

up against, as per, as for, but for, except for, but for, apart from, aside from, away from, as from, ahead of, as of, back of, because of, devoid of, exclusive of, inside of, instead of, irrespect of, off of, out of, outside of, regardless of, upwards of, void of, according to, as to, close to, contrary to, due to, near(er) to, next to, on to, owing to, preliminary to, preparatory to, previous to, prior to, pursuant to, subsequent to, thanks to, up to, along with, together with


dreiteilige Präpositionen:


in aid of, in back of, in behalf of, in case of, in charge of, in consequence of, in (the) face of, in favour of, in front of, in (the) light of, in lieu of, in need of, in place of, in (the) process of, in quest of, in respect of, in search of, in spite of, in view of, in accordance with, in common with, in comparison with, in compliance with, in conformity with, in contact with, in line with, by dint of, by means of, by virtue of, by way of, on account of, on behalf of, on (the) ground(s) of, on the matter of, on pain of, on the part of, on the strength of, on top of, as far as, at variance with, at the expense of, at the hands of, for (the) sake of, for/from want of, in exchange for, in return for, in addition to, in relation to, with/in regard to, with/in reference to, with/in respect to, with the exception of
















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