TYPES OF PREPOSITIONS (Contextual classification of prepositions)

*Depending on the type of nouns (pronouns) or actions (verbs) that follow prepositions, we can have a preposition of time, place, manner, purpose, possession, instrument, agent, matter or material. The group of words introduced by a preposition (noun, pronoun, verb) constitute the prepositional phrase. Example Man of Indian origin, The stars above the sky are visible after four years.

* Preposition of time: The nouns after these prepositions indicate a period or time. He usually comes in the morning./

**Preposition of place and direction:/ The bus picks the kid for school at 7:30AM/ Pupils return from school at 3:00PM /He lives in the suburbs. Others include at, beyond, above, below, under, over, across, etc

***Preposition of manner: The bus goes on high speed in the morning/They dance in a clumsy manner/The students work in pairs./He talks with the mouth closed.

****Preposition of purpose:/The pupils go to learn in school /The bag for storing dirt is full./ We have rooms to let./

*****Preposition of possession:/The bell for the kids sounds at seven thirty AM/The leg of the dog got broken while chasing the thief./ The girl with the small child teaches in our school./Food to children should be boiled and not fried.(could also be a direction)/

******Preposition of instrument (devices or machines): /Kids go by bus to school/He goes to school by train/The door opens with this key/ Information on radio is slower/.

********Preposition of agent: /The bus is driven by the school driver/The man was killed by the military./

*********Preposition of matter or material: / The school is built with planks /The benches of wood are squeaking/

**********Preposition of origin:/The pupils come from home, He comes from Africa.






Mark you as a reminder; each time we talk about the function of a word class in the sentence, we want to find out how it relates to other parts of speech at sentence level. There are ten (10) functions attributed to the preposition in English.

1. Head of a preposition phrase: The preposition is the head word in the prepositional phrase. The stain on her dress was caused when the car jumped into the pothole beside her./ He designs banners for a living. /

2. Prepositional phrases as modifiers.

Here, the phrase adds more meaning to the noun, verb or adjective modified. Many prepositional phrases can be combined in this particular role of modification.

2.1 Noun phrase modifier: The group of words after the preposition describes a noun or pronoun /He put it into the pot./ The road to the museum has a few street lamps./

2.2 Adjective phrase modifier:/The cup is full of wine./The girl is good at tennis, although naturally intelligent in academics.

2.3 Verb phrase modifier: /He slept during the meeting./He works near the seashore./

3. Prepositional phrases as Complements

The noun , adjective, verb phrases that are modified can’t stand on their own in the absence of the prepositional phrase. Here we talk of a prepositional phrase acting as a complement.

3.1 Adjective phrase complement: /He is full of himself/ He is fond of cheating in class tests./

3.2 Verb phrase complement: /He sleeps at 10:00PM./ He leans on his wife for a living./ He relies on his baby sitter./The bucket of berries sells at 30 dollars./

3.3 Noun phrase complement: /He admires our school of thought./ A bucket of berries sells at 30 dollars./

4. Adjuncts and adverbials:

 Adjuncts are mobile in a sentence(can begin or end a sentence) while adverbials stick to the verbs or adjectives to express time, place, manner. Both are optional because they don’t cause a major change in the meaning of the sentence with their addition or removal.

*Adjunct: /In awe, the students awaited the decision of the disciplinary council/He, in self-confidence, impressed the crowd when presenting his speech./

*Adverbials: /He lives in New York.(place)./Sleep intensifies during the earliest hours of dawn./(time)

5. Particles: Prepositions are used as particles in phrasal verbs, altering their meaning. Example: The plane takes off at 10:00PM./ Don’t temper with government’s decision to repatriate him./ The people fought against settlers./

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