Prepositions are not a favourite treatment in standard grammars where they are given only a few pages or a small number of monographs dealing with prepositions. It creates the impression that they are a straightforward topic which presents no problems either theoretical or practical, but the opposite is true. Monographs such as those by D. C. Bennett (1975) or K. G. Lindquist (1976) prove that prepositions are far from easy when it comes to systematic theoretical description of their semantic or syntagmatic relations.
The complexity of their description is equally reflected in the uneven attention given to the different formal and semantic categories of relations. Prepositions create a lot of troubles for students for whom English is a second or foreign language. We say we are at the hospital to visit a friend who is in the hospital. We lie in bed but on the couch. We watch a film at the theatre but on television. For native speakers, these little words present little difficulty, but if students try to learn another language they will quickly discover that prepositions are always troublesome in every language.
To avoid all the potencial difficulties with prepositions, every English learner should buy a proper dictionery. The only way to remember all the prepositions is to begin to master the difficulties of preposition usage through practise and paying close attention to speech and the written word. MAIN PROBLEMS WITH USING PREPOSITIONS 1. ENDING A SENTENCE WITH A PREPOSITION There is one “rule” which seems to be (according to many publications) a capital crime we can commit when using English and it is ending a sentence with a preposition. This rule comes from Latin where the placement of preposition is very importent.
Latin sentence can be confusing if the preposition does not appear in the right place. In 1500s and 1600s garammarians frequently applied Latin rules to English. Today, in daily speech the most common dialects still use this rule. (To what place was the package sent? )On the other hand in informal American English is this rule often broken. (What place was the package sent to? ) However, in British English it is quite a common mistake to put the prepotition in the end of the sentence, the sentence ending with preposition is an easy rule to get caught up on.
Although it is often easy to remedy the wrong preposition, sometimes it isn’t, and repair efforts sometimes result in a clumsy sentence. Indicate the book you are quoting from” is not greatly improved with “Indicate from which book you are quoting. ” There is one joke about ending the sentence with preposition: While editing the proof of one of his books, Winston Churchill spotted a sentence that had been clumsily rewritten by the editor to eliminate a preposition at the end. The elder statesman mocked the intention with a comment in the margin: “This is the sort of English up with which I will not put.
” 2. USING UNNECESSARY PREPOSITIONS In everyday speech, we fall into some bad habits, using prepositions where they are not necessary. It would be a good idea to eliminate these words altogether, but we must be especially careful not to use them in formal, academic prose. She met up with the new coach in the hallway. The book fell off of the desk. He threw the book out of the window. She wouldn’t let the cat inside of the house. [or use “in”] Where did they go to? Put the lamp in back of the couch. [use “behind” instead] Where is your college at?
USING PREPOSITIONS IN PARALLEL FORM When two words or phrases are used in parallel and require the same preposition to be idiomatically correct, the preposition does not have to be used twice. You can wear that outfit in summer and in winter. The female was both attracted by and distracted by the male’s dance. However, when the idiomatic use of phrases calls for different prepositions, we must be careful not to omit one of them. The children were interested in and disgusted by the movie. It was clear that this player could both contribute to and learn from every game he played.
He was fascinated by and enamored of this beautiful woman. CONCLUSION There is a lot of things to say about prepositions. They are the subtlest but at the same time the most useful words in the language for compressing a clear meaning into few words. Each preposition has its proper and general meaning (usually more them one, unfortunately for English students) which, by frequent and exacting use, has expanded and divided into a variety of meanings more or less close to the original one. That is why it is very difficult to study prepositions and why people say that who knows all prepositions knows the language well.