Prepositions – Concept, types, complete list, examples

We explain what prepositions are, what types exist and examples in a text. Also, the official list of prepositions.

Prepositions do not have their own lexical meaning.

What are the prepositions?

Prepositions they are a certain invariable type of words, of entirely grammatical meaning, whose function within the sentence is to express the relationship that exists between two or more other terms. Therefore, they are words that do not have their own lexical meaning, but rather express a logical, spatial, positional or other relationship. For this reason, they are usually the most arbitrary and difficult to learn particles of a language.

In fact, prepositions are usually quite ambiguous in their use, and even native speakers can use them incorrectly or have questions about which one is appropriate for a specific situation, since several prepositions can have similar uses.

This is the case, to cite an example, of the word “from”, which generally expresses a relationship of belonging (“That’s Juan’s dog”), but can also express provenance (“I’m from Mexico”), content ( “A glass of water”) or even manufacturing material (“A titanium bar”).

Prepositions are numerous in Spanish and in most languages, and they are usually subject to very specific rules of grammar. Some come from Latin and other extinct languages, while others are the result of neologisms, and some even tend to disappear, being replaced by others.

Similarly, there are verbs and phrases that require specific prepositions (in what is called prepositional regime); and it may also be the case that some prepositions are contracted when joining certain articles, as occurs with “of the”(Of + the) or with“to the”(To + him).

Types of prepositions

Prepositions can be classified according to the relational meaning that they contribute to the sentence, that is, according to the type of relationship that their presence establishes, although many times this is not exact, is ambiguous or belongs to several categories at the same time. Thus, we have:

  • Prepositions of place, which indicate a physical, geographical or spatial state of one thing with respect to another, such as: from, towards, via, over, between, to, under, together, etc.
  • Time prepositions, which express a relationship of priority, posteriority or simultaneity with respect to something else, such as: with, until, during, after, since, etc.
  • Mode prepositions, which indicate the way in which an action was carried out, such as: to, with, in, by, under, according to, and so on.
  • Cause-consequence prepositions, which establish a type of causal or consequential relationship, such as: for, by, to, according to, and so on.
  • Instrumentality Prepositions, which indicate what an action was carried out with, such as: with, from, in, by, by, and so on.
  • Opposition prepositions, which express a relationship of contrariety or opposition, such as: against, versus, front, ectétera.
  • Prepositions of absence, which denote lack, deprivation or absence of something, such as: without.

On the other hand, there are simple prepositions, like many of those listed here, which contain a single term, and compound prepositions, which involve several terms in the same expression, such as: above, between, along with, despite, in order to, and so on.

Prepositions in a text

As an example of use, in the following text we have highlighted the prepositions of each sentence (taken from “The most beautiful drowned man in the world”, by Gabriel García Márquez):

The first children who saw the dark and stealthy headland approaching by the sea, they made the illusion from that it was an enemy ship. Later they saw that it had no flags or trees, and they thought it was a whale. But when he got stranded on the beach they removed the bushes from sargassum, filaments from jellyfish and wreckage from shoals and shipwrecks that he carried, and only then did they discover that he was a drowned man.

They had played with him all afternoon, burying him and digging him up on the sand, when someone saw them by chance and sounded the alarm on the village. The men who carried it until the nearest house they noticed that it weighed more than all the known dead, almost as much as a horse, and they said that perhaps it had been too long to the drift and the water had gotten inside him from the bones. When they tended it on the ground they saw that it had been much larger than all men, for it could hardly fit on the house, but they thought that maybe the faculty from keep growing later from death was on nature from certain drowned people. It had the smell of the sea, and only the shape allowed us to suppose that it was the corpse from a human being, because his skin was coated from a cuirass from remora and from mud.

They didn’t have to wipe his face for to know that he was someone else’s dead. The town had only about twenty houses from boards, with courtyards from stones without flowers scattered on the extreme from a desert cape. The land was so scarce that mothers always walked with the fear from let the wind take away to the children, and to the deaths that the years caused them had to be thrown away on the cliffs.

List of prepositions

The “official” list of simple prepositions established by the Royal Spanish Academy includes the following: to, before, under, fits, with, against, of, from, during, in, between, towards, to, through, for, by, according to, without, so, on, after, versus and via.

In addition, a very extensive set of prepositional phrases is recognized, among which are: about, next to, around, before, despite, near, according to, in order to, provided, provided, under, in front of, within, after, behind, above, as to, in front of, in order to, after, under, in front of, outside of, thanks to, at the mercy of, next to, far from, because of, with respect to, and so on.