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Choice of preposition in the noun complement

The choice of preposition correlates with the thematic role which is assigned to the prepositional complement. The preposition van of, for example, can be used with noun phrases (NPs) bearing various thematic roles.


The preposition van of is used for agents (a), themes (b) and possessors (c). Examples of each of these meanings, are provided below.

a) To introduce a PP containing an agent.

The agent is indicated in brackets:

Ons lees hierdie jaar 'Kringe in 'n Bos' van [Dalene Matthee].
we read this year circles in a forest of [Dalene Matthee]
This year, we are reading 'Circles in a forest' by Dalene Matthee.

Agents can also be introduced by the preposition deur by:

'n Volledige lys van boeke deur [Dalene Matthee].
a complete list of books by [Dalene Matthee]
A complete list of books by Dalene Matthee

b) To introduce a PP containing a theme.

The theme is indicated in brackets:

Die verwoesting van [die omgewing]
the destruction of [the environment]
The destruction of the environment

Some nouns lexically select a specific preposition for their theme complement. The example below illustrates this for the collocationsvertroue in trust in and gesprek oor discussion on/about:

a. Ek het vertroue in die regstelsel.
I have trust in the law.system
I have confidence in the justice system
b. Ons het 'n moeilike gesprek oor haar ma.
we have.PRS a difficult discussion about her mother
We are having a difficult discussion about her mother

c) To introduce a PP containing a possessor.

The possessor is indicated in brackets:

Die leeus van [Johannesburg se dieretuin]
the lions of [Johannesburg PTCL.GEN zoo]
The lions of Johannesburg's zoo
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