Preposition: Grammar and English Prepositional Phrases

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  • Topic: Grammar, Phrase, Syntax
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  • Published : August 19, 2011
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In grammar, a preposition is a part of speech that introduces a prepositional phrase or combines with a noun to form a phrase. For example, in the sentence "The cat sleeps on the sofa", the word "on" is a preposition, introducing the prepositional phrase "on the sofa". In English, the most used prepositions are "of", "to", "in", "for", "with" and "on". Simply put, a preposition indicates a relation between things mentioned in a sentence. Another simpler term, a preposition is a prior explanation, typically found before a noun, pronoun, or substantives, that explains the noun, pronoun, or substantive. Examples would be beneath, between, under, above, below, upon, atop, into, onto, within, without, or across. (The princess found the pea 'underneath' her mattress.) A postposition would be for the same use but used after the noun, pronoun, or substantive. (He drew a line on the map from one state and 'across'.)

Students are commonly taught that prepositions cannot end a sentence, although there is no rule prohibiting that use.[1][2] Winston Churchill is said to have written, "This is the sort of English up with which I will not put,"[2] illustrating the awkwardness that would result from a rule against the use of terminal prepositions. (However, the attribution of this quote to Churchill is almost certainly apocryphal.[3])

In many languages (e.g. Urdu, Turkish, Hindi and Japanese), the words that serve the role of prepositions come after, not before, the dependent noun phrase. Such words are commonly called postpositions; similarly, circumpositions consist of two parts that appear on both sides of the dependent noun phrase. The technical term used to refer collectively to prepositions, postpositions, and circumpositions is adposition. In more technical language, an adposition is an element that, prototypically, combines syntactically with a phrase and indicates how that phrase should be interpreted in the surrounding context. Some linguists use the word...
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