Prepositions of ...?


Does anyone know why we call prepositions like 'on, in and at' "prepositions of place"? They can all be used for time and manner phrases, too.

asked Oct 27 '11 at 07:39 Agreeonpurpose Contributor

2 answers


They are prepositions of place because they can be used referring to where objects are at given points...such as "on the table, in the house, at the bank."


When referring to time they can be, "on Monday, in two hours, at noon."

link comment answered Oct 27 '11 at 17:23 Scott Martin Contributor

Hi Alex and thanks for your response.  I am in fact aware of how prepositions are used, as I have been teaching ESL for 30 years - LOL!  Perhaps my question should have started "Why on earth do we...?"  I ask this question because it seems to me that this term "preposition of place" is a confusing misnomer. The preposition itself doesn't indicate time, manner or place (or anything else) until it is partnered up with a noun or noun-unit.  Only then does it take on some meaning. To call them therefore "prepositions of place, etc. " seems to me like we've labelled them incorrectly. 


I was wondering if this was a hang-over from Latin.  That is, do the prepositions in Latin take on a specific form when they indicate place, time and manner?  (I'm not a Latin scholar.)


In English, I have started to call the whole phrase "prepositional phrase of time" or more succinctly "time phrase", and call the prepositions themselves just that - prepositions, pure and simple.


What do you think?

link comment answered Oct 31 '11 at 01:07 Agreeonpurpose Contributor

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