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    The Adpositional Complement in English Grammar

    The Adpositional Complement in English Grammar

    Adpositional complements are defined as the word, phrase, or clause that directly follows the adposition and completes the meaning of the adpositional phrase. Adpositional complements are also called objects of adpositions and complements of adpositions. Both prepositional complements and postpositional complements are subcategories of adpositional complements. Prepositional complements follow the preposition. Postpositional complements precede the postposition. Although noun phrases most frequently function as the adpositional complement in adpositional phrases, four grammatical forms can perform the grammatical function of adpositional complement in the English language. The four grammatical forms that can function as the adpositional complement are:

    • Noun phrases
    • Noun clauses
    • Verb phrases
    • Prepositional phrases

    The following sections define and exemplify the four grammatical forms that can function as the adpositional complement in English grammar.

    Noun Phrases as Adpositional Complements

    The first grammatical form that can perform the grammatical function of adpositional complement is the noun phrase. Noun phrases are defined as phrases formed by a noun or pronoun plus any determinatives, modifiers, and complements including determiners, adjectives, prepositions, and verbs. For example, the following italicized noun phrases function as adpositional complements:

    • on floor six (prepositional complement)
    • during the weddings of their children (prepositional complement)
    • into the house (prepositional complement)
    • six years ago (postpositional complement)
    • seven wild miles apart (postpositional complement)
    • the whole night through (postpositional complement)

    Noun phrases most frequently function as adpositional complements. Only noun phrases function as postpositional complements.

    Noun Clauses as Adpositional Complements

    The second grammatical form that can perform the grammatical function of adpositional complement is the noun clause. Noun clauses are defined as subordinate clauses formed by an independent clause preceded by a subordinating conjunction. For example, the following italicized noun clauses function as adpositional complements:

    • His parents will think about that he wants a new car for his birthday.
    • We will focus the investigation on whomever you identify as the perpetrator.
    • The teacher listened to what the students said happened.
    • She has been waiting for whoever will pick her up from the mall.
    • My dogs are always begging for me to give them treats.
    • Do the neighbors often ask for you to babysit their kids?

    Noun clauses frequently function as the prepositional complement of prepositional verbs.

    Verb Phrases as Adpositional Complements

    The third grammatical form that can perform the grammatical function of prepositional complement is the verb phrase in the form of present participles. Verb phrases are defined as phrases that are formed by a verb and any modifiers, complements, infinitive markers, and particles. For example, the following italicized verb phrases function as adpositional complements:

    • The publisher thanks you for writing the book.
    • My parents have been looking at selling their summer house.
    • Your little brother took care of watering the garden while we were on vacation.
    • The students are having problems with solving the assigned equations.
    • My professor strongly believes in consulting librarians with research questions.
    • Can we talk about planting a garden this summer?

    Traditional grammars generally refer to verb phrases functioning as prepositional complements as gerunds.

    Prepositional Phrases as Adpositional Complements

    The fourth grammatical form that can perform the grammatical function of prepositional complement is the prepositional phrase. Prepositional phrases are defined as phrases that are formed by a preposition directly followed by a prepositional complement. For example, the following italicized prepositional phrases function as prepositional complements:

    • My mother thought about under the bed.
    • She is worrying about in the morning.
    • The maid gawked at behind the refrigerator.
    • The secret agent is spying on inside the boardroom.

    Prepositional phrases often function as the prepositional complement of prepositional verbs.

    The four grammatical forms that can function as the adpositional complement of adpositional phrases in the English language are noun phrases, noun clauses, verb phrases, and prepositional phrases.

    Summary

    Adpositional complements in English grammar are words, phrases, and clauses that complete the meaning of an adpositional phrase.

    Adpositional complement is a grammatical function.

    The grammatical forms that can function as the adpositional complement in English grammar are noun phrases, prepositional phrases, verb phrases, and noun clauses.

    Adpositional complements are also called complements of adpositions and objects of adpositions.

    Both prepositional complements and postpositional complements are subcategories of adpositional complements. Prepositional complements follow the preposition. Postpositional complements precede the postposition.

    Because prepositions vastly outnumber postpositions in the English language, most grammars group postpositions with prepositions and discuss both types of adpositions as prepositions. Likewise, most grammars group postpositional complements with prepositional complements and discuss both types of adpositional complements as prepositional complements.

    References

    Brinton, Laurel J. & Donna M. Brinton. 2010. The linguistic structure of Modern English, 2nd edn. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
    Hopper, Paul J. 1999. A short course in grammar. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
    Huddleston, Rodney. 1984. Introduction to the grammar of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    O’Dwyer, Bernard T. 2000. Modern English structures: Form, function, and position. Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Press.

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