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English Prepositions

Their Meanings and Uses

R. M. W. Dixon

Publication Date - 03 February 2022

ISBN: 9780198868712

464 pages
9.7 x 6.7 inches

In Stock

This book provides an integrated account of the main prepositions of English, outlining their various forms and illustrating contrastive senses.


This book provides an integrated account of the main prepositions of English, outlining their various forms and illustrating contrastive senses. The three chapters in Part I delineate grammatical contexts of occurrence and special uses, exploring grammatical roles, phrasal verbs, and prepositional verbs respectively. In Part II, each chapter deals with a set of related prepositions, providing an integrated account of the meanings for each, and explaining how these are linked to their grammatical properties. There are two chapters on relational prepositions - principally of, for, by, and with - which have only minor reference to space or time. These are followed by seven chapters on prepositions whose basic meaning is spatial, with many extensions to abstract senses, and one that ties together the varied ways through which prepositions deal with time. The final chapter outlines how some people have attempted to prescribe how language should be used; it also covers dialect variation, foreign learners' errors, and prospects for the future. The book is written in Dixon's accustomed style - clear and well-organized, with easy-to-understand explanations, and with limited use of technical terms. The book will be of interest to students and scholars of the English language, including instructors of English as a second language.


  • Provides an integrated account of the form and meaning of the main prepositions of English
  • Illustrated throughout with extensive examples from a range of sources
  • Written in a clear and accessible style, with limited use of technical terms

About the Author(s)

R. M. W. Dixon, Adjunct Professor, Central Queensland University, Cairns Campus

R. M. W. Dixon is Adjunct Professor at Central Queensland University, Cairns Campus. He has published grammars of Boumaa Fijian (University of Chicago Press, 1988), of Jarawara (OUP, 2004), and of several Australian languages (including Dyirbal and Yidiñ), as well as Australian Languages: Their Nature and Development (CUP, 2002), and Edible Gender, Mother-in-Law Style, and Other Grammatical Wonders (OUP, 2015; paperback 2020). His theoretical contributions include The Rise and Fall of Languages (CUP, 1997), the magisterial three-volume work Basic Linguistic Theory (OUP, 2010-12), and Are Some Languages Better than Others? (OUP, 2016; paperback 2018). He has also published on his native language, with A Semantic Approach to English Grammar (2nd edition; OUP, 2005), Making New Words: Morphological Derivation in English (OUP, 2014), The Unmasking of English Dictionaries (CUP, 2018), and the present volume.

Table of Contents

    Abbreviations and conventions
    1. A story to tell
    Part I. The Stage is Set
    2. Grammatical roles
    3. Phrasal verbs
    4. Prepositional verbs
    Part II. The Players
    5. The mainstays: of, for
    6. Supporting artists: by, with, together, together-with, except(-for), but(-for), despite, in-spite-of
    7. The central spatial prepositions: at, to, toward(s), from
    8. Enclosure: in, into, out, out-of; within, without, inside(-of), outside(-of)
    9. Connection and adjacency: On, upon, onto, off, off-of; against; beside(s)
    10. Superiority: up, up-to, down
    11. Position: Over, under, above, below, beneath, underneath; behind, ahead(-of), in-front(-of), back, forth, forwards(s), backward(s); beyond, near(-to), close-to, far-from; along alongside, across, through, throughout
    12. Distribution: among(st), amid(st), between, in-between; (a)round; about, concerning
    13. Separation: Apart(-from), aside(-from), away(-from)
    14. Temporal: Since, because(-of); until/till, up-until/up-till; during; after, afterward(s), before, beforehand; past; and more
    15. Do it your way
    Sources and notes

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