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Adpositions and adposition phrases


An adposition, as the head of an adposition phrase, characteristically denotes a relation between two referents, such as the positional relation between the two nouns pen pen and hand hand in the first example below.

The term adposition refers to the part of speech generally known as (a) a preposition (as in the first example), but also includes (b) postpositions (as in the second example) and (c) circumpositions (as in the third example). Some highly grammaticalised adpositions do not take complements, and are then referred to as intransitive adpositions (as in the last example below).

My pen is in my hand.
my pen be.PRS in my hand
My pen is in my hand.
Hulle is êrens heen.
they be.PRS somewhere away
They have gone somewhere.
Ek bly van môre af tuis.
I stay from tomorrow onward home
I will stay home as from tomorrow.
Die melk is op.
the milk be.PRS up
The milk is finished.

The adpositional phrase is a structure built around any of these adpositions, and is abbreviated as PP, since the term includes both prepositions (before its complement) and postpositions (after the complement), as well as circumpositions (before and after the complement), as indicated above. The abbreviation PP has the additional advantage that confusion with the abbreviation AP (adjective phrase) is avoided.


    Characteristics of adpositions

    Adpositions can have complements (compare Complementation of the PP), indicated by brackets in the following two examples. The first example below involves a complement of the category NP, and the second of the category PP:

    a. in [die tuin]
    in the garden
    b. van [anderkant die rivier] af
    from beyond the river onward

    PPs can be also modified by, for example, other PPs, APs and noun phrases (NPs), and may, for example, function as adverbials (compare Modification of PPs). In the examples below, the modifier is bracketed:

    a. Sy is [sedert gister] in die hospitaal.
    she be.PRS [since yesterday] in the hospital
    She has been in hospital since yesterday.
    b. Hy is [vroeg] in sy lewe verlam.
    he be.AUX.PASS.PST [early] in his life paralyse.PASS
    He was paralysed early in his life.
    c. Sy is [elke dag] by die huis.
    she be.PRS [every day] at home
    She is at home every day.

    Verbal particles, as part of phrasal verbs, are adpositions without complements (compare Intransitive adpositions). These adpositions are bracketed in the examples below:

    a. My ma ruim [op].
    my mother clear [up]
    My mother is tidying up.
    b. Die rivieroewer kalwe [uit].
    the river.bank hollow [out]
    The river bank is washing out.

    PPs occur in various types of predication (compare Predication of the PP), such as adverbial (see example 7) and adjectival predications (see example 8) below:

    Sy doen dit [op eie houtjie].
    she do it on own wood.DIM
    She is doing it on her own.
    Dit is nog vroeg [in die dag].
    it be.PRS still early [in the day]
    It is still early in the day.'

    The characteristics and classification, complementation and modification of the Afrikaans PP are discussed under different sections.

    For more information on the characterisation and classification of PPs, see Characterisation and classification of the PP.

    For more information on the complementation of PPs, see Complementation of the PP.

    For more information on the modification of PPs, see Modification of PPs.

    For more information on preposition stranding and R-pronouns, see Preposition stranding and R-pronouns.

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