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1.1.Characterization of the category adposition

This section provides a brief characterization of the category of adpositions. Adpositions can be divided into the four basic types in (1) on the basis of their position with respect to their complement, with apologies for the contradictio in terminis in the term intransitive adposition in (1d).

Formal classification of adpositions
a. Prepositions: adpositions preceding their complement
b. Postpositions: adpositions following their complement
c. Circumpositions: discontinuous adpositions enclosing their complement
d. Intransitive adpositions and particles: adpositions without a complement

Table 1 gives two examples of each type. Section 1.2 will provide a comprehensive discussion of these four syntactic subclasses, but the present section will first provide a more general discussion of the category of adpositions. Section 1.1.1 starts with a discussion of some characteristic properties of the category of adpositions. Section 1.1.2 provides a preliminary discussion of the syntactic uses of adpositional phrases.

Table 1: Formal classification of the adpositions
adposition type example translation section
preposition (P + NP) voor het huis
tijdens de voorstelling
in front of the house
during the performance
postposition (NP + P) het huis in
het hele jaar door
into the house
throughout the year
(P + NP + P)
onder het hek door
tussen de lessen door
under the gate
in between the lessons
intransitive adpositions and particles (P) De vakantie is voorbij.
De kachel is uit.
The holiday is over.
The heater is off.

Since the purpose of the present section is to provide the necessary background for the remainder of our discussion on adpositional phrases, it is inevitably sketchy and far from complete; many issues mentioned here will be taken up again and discussed more exhaustively later in this study.

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