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The Adpositional Phrase Head in English Grammar

The Adpositional Phrase Head in English Grammar

Encompassing both prepositional phrase heads and postpositional phrase heads, adpositional phrase heads are words that function as the heads of adpositional phrases. An adpositional phrase consists of an adposition such as a preposition or postposition plus another word, phrase, or clause functioning as an adpositional complement. Two grammatical forms can perform the function of adpositional phrase head in the English language. The two grammatical forms that can function as the adpositional phrase head are:

  • Prepositions
  • Postpositions

Both prepositions and postpositions are subcategories of adpositions. The following sections define and exemplify the two grammatical forms that can function as the adpositional phrase head in English grammar.

Prepositions as Adpositional Phrase Heads

The first grammatical form that performs the grammatical function of prepositional phrase head is the preposition. Traditional grammars notionally define prepositions as words that “link to other words, phrases, and clauses” and that “express spatial or temporal relations.” For example, the following italicized prepositions function as prepositional phrase heads:

  • in twenty inches of snow
  • come January
  • about how he wishes to start a business
  • in spite of our differences

Most grammars identify adpositional phrases that contain a preposition as the head as a more specific prepositional phrase. Prepositional phrase is a subcategory of adpositional phrase.

Postpositions as Adpositional Phrase Heads

The second grammatical form that performs the grammatical function of adpositional phrase head is the postposition. Traditional grammars notionally define postpositions as words that “link to other words, phrases, and clauses” and that “express spatial or temporal relations.” For example, the following italicized postpositions function as adpositional phrase heads:

  • six years ago
  • two blocks apart
  • the whole night through
  • limitations notwithstanding

Many grammars identify adpositional phrases that contain a postposition as the head erroneously as a prepositional phrase. Adpositional phrases that contain a postposition as the head are more specifically postpositional phrases. Postpositional phrase is a subcategory of adpositional phrase.

The two grammatical forms that can function as the adpositional phrase head in the English language are the preposition and the postposition.

Summary

Adpositional phrase heads are words that function as the heads of adpositional phrases. An adpositional phrase consists of an adposition such as a preposition or postposition plus another word, phrase, or clause functioning as an adpositional complement.

Adpositional phrase head is a grammatical function.

The grammatical forms that can function as the adpositional phrase head in English grammar are the preposition and the postposition.

Prepositional phrases and postpositional phrases are subcategories of adpositional phrase.

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.

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