Connect
To Top

Grammatical Form of English Postpositions

Grammatical Form of English Postpositions

Belonging to a grammatical category consisting of a small closed word set, notional grammars define adpositions as “words that indicate a relation between the noun or pronoun and another word, which may be a verb, an adjective, or another noun or pronoun.” Postpositions are a subcategory of adpositions in which the postposition follows the complement in a postpositional phrase. Like prepositions in the English language, postpositions show no inflectional variation.

Because prepositions vastly outnumber postpositions in the English language, most grammars group postpositions with prepositions and discuss both types of adpositions as prepositions. However, postpositional phrases differ in form from prepositional phrases. Some of the most common English postpositions include the following:

  • ago
  • apart
  • aside
  • away
  • hence
  • notwithstanding
  • on
  • through
  • withal

For example:

  • Such examples aside, postpositions are rare in English.
  • The jury acquitted the defendant, the evidence notwithstanding.
  • I had my first baby six years ago.
  • They will leave a month hence.

Many postpositions are archaic and appear more frequently in writing than in speech.

English postpositions also perform fewer grammatical functions than English prepositions. Prepositions form six prototypical functions and six nominal functions. Postpositions, however, form only three grammatical functions: postpositional phrase head, adjunct adverbial, and disjunct adverbial.

Postpositions are a subcategory of adpositions — words that “link to other words, phrases, and clauses” and that “express spatial or temporal relations” — in which the complement precedes the postposition. Postpositions perform three grammatical functions.

Summary

Postpositions are words that “link to other words, phrases, and clauses” and that “express spatial or temporal relations.”

Postposition is a grammatical form.

The three grammatical functions of postpositions are postpositional phrase head, adjunct adverbial, and disjunct adverbial.

Postpositions belong to a closed class of function words that lack any variation in internal structure.

Postpositions follow the complement in a postpositional 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.

More in English Prepositions