Студопедия — Preposition as a part of speech in English and Ukrainian languages
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Preposition as a part of speech in English and Ukrainian languages

The preposition is a part of speech characterized by the following features:

1. Its lexico-grammatical meaning of “relations (of substances)”.

Ukrainian prepositions are considered to be the functional part of speech which together with cases expresses dependence of one notional word on the other in a word group or in a sentence and by this prepositions render the relations of objects, actions, states and qualities denoted by these words. Ukrainian prepositions possess both lexical and grammatical meanings. The lexical meaning is more vivid in the recently created derivative prepositions (коло, близько, неподалік) and it is shadowed in primary prepositions. Besides prepositions possess the categorial (or grammatical) meaning which is understood as the property of prepositions to point out towards syntactic relations between words (that is relations of subordination) [15; 200].

2. Its bilateral combinability with a right-hand noun (or noun-equivalent) and a left-hand combinability with a word belonging to almost any part of speech.

3. Its syntactic function of a linking word.

Prepositions are not characterized by any grammatical categories or typical stem-building elements.

As far as their structure is concerned English prepositions, like other parts of speech, fall into the following groups:

1. Simple or primitive, e.g. at, in, of, by, with, for, etc.

2. Derivative, e.g. below, beside, along, etc.

3. Compound, e.g. inside, within, into, throughout, etc.

4. Composite, e.g. instead of, in accordance with, owing to, in front of, etc.

Many prepositions are homonymous with adverbs (about, before, below, down, since, etc.), conjunctions (before, since, etc.), particles (regarding, concerning, etc.), lexico-grammatical word-morphemes (in, on, up, etc.).

Similar to other parts of speech the lexico-grammatical meaning of prepositions is an abstraction from their individual lexical meanings. Let us compare the following combinations of words:

the book in the bag,

the book on the bag,

the book under the bag,

the book near the bag.

In all of them the preposition shows the relation of one noun to another, which reflects the relations of the corresponding substances in the world of reality. This meaning of “relations (of substances)” common to all prepositions is their lexico-grammatical meaning. But each preposition in the expressions above shows a different relation revealing thus its individual lexical meaning.

It is much more difficult to define lexical meaning of a preposition than that of a noun or an adjective, because prepositions usually have very general, abstract meanings.

It is necessary to make some remarks regarding the classification of prepositions according to their meaning into those of place, direction, time, etc. When we say that the prepositions at or by have local meanings in at window, by the window, and temporal meanings in at 6 o'clock, by 6 o'clock we simply add the meanings of the neighbouring words to those of prepositions. Originally, a preposition like in is supposed to have had a concrete local meaning. But at present in is used with such a variety of words that it has a very vague and general meaning, something like “inside some sphere”. That sphere may be local as in Kyiv, temporal, as in January, abstract as in love, in thought, etc.

Prepositions like in, at, on, by, etc. are used with all kinds of nouns, so that the local, temporal and other meanings of the prepositional construction do not depend on the preposition, but on the noun. Such prepositions may be called general. There are some other prepositions which may be called special. They are used chiefly with nouns of certain meaning. For instance, the preposition till can be used with nouns like midnight, dawn, time, but not with window, town, place and the like. That shows that till has acquired a temporal meaning. The causal meaning of the special preposition because of is so strong that it determines the meaning of the prepositional construction irrespective of the noun. Compare: because of the time (place, love, John).

The combinability of a preposition is rather peculiar. As a rule, it is followed by a noun or a noun equivalent which it is closely connected with. At the same time it is associated with some preceding notional word belonging to nearly any part of speech. We may speak of stable right-hand connections and variable left-hand connections.

Parts of speech Preposition Noun (or noun equivalent)
verb think adj. clever adlink afraid num. three pron. many noun leg adv. west of of of of of of of John him going us them mutton it

Bilateral combinability is typical not only of prepositions but of other linking words as well: conjunctions, link-verbs, and modal verbs. But combinability of prepositions differs from that of all of them. As stated above, prepositions have stable right-hand and variable left-hand connections. Conjunctions and link-verbs have both connections variable (Compare: He is a student, afraid of being late). Modal verbs have both connections stable: the subject on the left and the infinitive on the right [24; 206–208].

Prepositions of modern Ukrainian language create a complex system. According to their origin they are subdivided into primary (original) and secondary (derivative) (первинні чи первісні і вторинні чи похідні). Primary prepositions are rather few in number: на, у, в, за, од, від, без, для, з, між, крізь, під, по, при, про, ради, через, о (об). They differ from the secondary ones by a greater degree of abstraction and generalization of their meaning.

Secondary prepositions have been created from different notional parts of speech quite recently. The biggest number make up prepositions formed from adverbs (навколо, близько, згідно, кругом, поблизу, поруч, etc.). The smaller number is formed by the substantival prepositions (край, кінець, протягом, коло, etc.) and verbal ones (завдяки, виключаючи).

According to their structural properties and morphological characteristics Ukrainian prepositions are subdivided into simple – with one root stem (за, перед, на, коло, між, etc.); compound (складні) – formed from two or more simple prepositions (поверх, заради, поза, щодо, з-поміж, etc.); composite (складені) created from different categories of notional words and prepositions (у напрямі до, незважаючи на, услід за, згідно з, etc.).

Prepositions are differentiated according to their semantics. The biggest group is made up of prepositions possessing the meaning of space relations (значення просторовості). The general quantity of Ukrainian prepositions is above 220, with 137 being prepositions denoting spatial relations [15; 200–202].

Though the lexico-grammatical meaning, the combinability and function of English prepositions are similar to those of the Ukrainian counterparts, the role of prepositions in the two languages is different. This difference, however, depends not on the very prepositions, but on the nouns they introduce.

The lexico-grammatical meaning of prepositions, being the one of “relations (of substances)”, approximates to the grammatical meaning of case.

In the Ukrainian language with its six-case (or seven-case) system the relations of substances are mostly denoted by case morphemes. Prepositions are but a secondary means of specifying these relations. In English the only positive case morpheme - s’ shows but a very limited number of relations. So, prepositions become a primary means of denoting relations of substances. Their role, as we see, is determined by the grammatical system of the language.

In Ukrainian the two means of expressing relations are interdependent. Certain prepositions go with certain cases (до столу, від стола, над столом, etc.). So, the preposition is closely connected with the noun it precedes. It cannot be used without the noun. In English the preposition is much more independent. It can be separated from the noun, as in The house I speak of. Several prepositions may refer to one noun in the sentence, as in He played with and read to the children. A preposition may refer not only to a word, but also to a word-combination (That is for you to decide) or a clause (It all depends on how he will act) [15; 206–211].


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