Monday, 31 August 2020

The Preposition Proposition

Remember what prepositions are? You can always check up on terms in the Parts of Speech page on this blog.

Prepositions are usually very small words, like "in," "on," "for," "from." Their use is much more stable that that of other parts of speech. Linguists sometime refer to them as "grammatical words," (along with articles and pronouns), as opposed to "lexical words," which carry the main content of a sentence. So, in the sentence:

He ran recklessly over the railway track without looking

"he," "over," "the" and arguably "without" are grammatical words, little units that give you the who and where and how, while "ran," "recklessly," railway track" and "looking" give you the meat of the meaning.

"Over" and "without" are the prepositions here, doing their job in holding the sentence together, like the mortar between bricks, to mix my metaphors.

Very occasionally prepositions take on a new meaning or use. Take "into." As well as conveying "inside" and a notion of entering, a couple of decades ago, it took on the meaning of having an interest in, as in 

"She's really into geology."

And then came the inventive use, for millennials, of innocent little "into" to mean "sexually attracted to."


This movie dates from 2009 but I'd heard the expression years earlier on Friends or Sex in the City. (Incidentally, it's always that way round; no-one seems to use "she's not that into you.")

And then there is the relatively recent use by train announcers of  "The train is arriving into Banbury." (usually followed by the equally redundant "Banbury is your next station stop," where either "station" or "stop" would do the same work.) "Arriving" already tells you that the train is drawing into the station.

Train arriving at Banbury station
                                                       A train arriving at Banbury station

(By the way, "into" is written as one word and "on to" is heading that way. I never write "onto" myself but I see it everywhere so it will soon be the norm).

Another change in preposition use that I've noticed is "for" after "excited" and similar words instead of "about." E.g.

"I'm excited for your birthday party" rather than "I'm excited about your birthday party."

"I'm happy for your exam result" rather than "I'm happy about your exam result."

 

 

Has anyone noticed any other new usages of prepositions? Tell me in the Comments below.


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