There is, in grammar, a class of words which may be called joining words
or connectives. They are of two classes: (i) those which join nouns
or pronouns to some other word; and (ii) those which join sentences.
The first class are called Prepositions; the second Conjunctions.
A Preposition is a word which connects a noun or pronoun
with a verb, an adjective, or another noun or pronoun.
(It thus shows the relation between things, or between a thing and an
(i) He stood on
the table. Here on joins a verb and a noun.
(ii) Mary is
fond of music. Here of joins an adjective and a noun.
(iii) The man at the door is waiting. Here
at joins two nouns.
The word preposition comes from the Lat.
prae, before, and positus, placed. We have similar compounds in
composition and deposition.
The noun or pronoun which follows the preposition is in the objective case,
and is said to be governed by the preposition.
(i) But the preposition may come at
the end of the sentence. Thus we can say, “This is the house we were looking at.” But
at still governs which (understood) in the objective.
We can also say, “Whom were you talking to?”
Prepositions are divided into two
classes: (i) simple; and (ii) compound.
(i) The following are simple
prepositions: at, by, for, in, of, off, on, out, to, with, up.
(ii) The compound prepositions are
formed in several ways:—
(a) By adding a comparative suffix to an
adverb: after, over, under.
(b) By prefixing a
preposition to an adverb: above, about, before, behind, beneath,
but (= be-out), throughout, within, etc.
(c) By prefixing a
preposition to a noun: aboard, across, around, among, beside,
(d) By prefixing an adverb or adverbial particle to a
preposition: into, upon, until,
(iii) The preposition but is
to be carefully distinguished from the conjunction but. “All were there
but him.” Here but is a preposition. “We waited an hour; but
he did not come.” Here but is a conjunction.
preposition, was in O.E. be-útan, and meant on the outside of,
and then without: but, the conjunction, was in O.E. bot..
The old proverb, “Touch not the cat but a
glove,” means “without a glove.”
(iv) Down was
adown = of
down = off the down or hill.
(v) Among was = on gemong,
in the crowd.
(vi) There are several compound
prepositions made up of separate words: instead of, on account of, in spite
(vii) Some participles are used as
prepositions: notwithstanding, concerning, respecting. The prepositions
except and save may be regarded as imperatives.
The same words are used sometimes as
adverbs, and sometimes as prepositions. We distinguish these words by their
function. They can also be used as nouns or as adjectives.
(i) Thus we find the following words used either as
|(1) Stand up!
boy ran up the hill.
|(2) Come on!
||(2) The book lies on the table.
|(3) Be off!
||(3) Get off the chair.
|(4) He walked quickly past.
||(4) He walked past the church.
(ii) Adverbs are sometimes used as nouns, as in the sentences, “I have
met him before now.” “He is dead since then.”
(iii) In the following we find adverbs used as
adjectives: “thine often infirmities;” “the then king,” etc.
(iv) A phrase sometimes does duty as an adverb, as in “from
beyond the sea;”
“from over the mountains,” etc.