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§ 1. The preposition is a part of speech which denotes the relations between objects and phenomena. It shows the relations between a noun or a pronoun and other words.
Usually the preposition is not stressed and stands before the word it refers to.
Desert moved quicklyto the windows. (Galsworthy)
Sometimes, however, a preposition maybe separated from the word it refers to and placed at the end of the sentence or clause. In that case it is stressed.
But he sounds as though he knows what he's talking about. (Wilson)
The preposition may be weakly stressed before a pronoun.
She wrote the words to them herself, and other poems. (Galsworthy)
The preposition is stressed when its meaning is emphasized.
The book was in the table, not on it.
§ 2. As to their morphological structure prepositions fall under the following groups:
simple (in, on, at, for, with, etc.);
derivative (behind, below, across, along, etc.);
compound (inside, outside, within, without, etc.);
composite (because of, in front of in accordance with, etc.).
§ 3. According to their meaning prepositions may be divided into Prepositions of place and direction(in, on, below, under, between, etc.), time (after, before, at, etc.), prepositions expressing abstract relations (отвлеченные отношения) (by, with, because of with a view to, etc.).
The lexical meaning of some prepositions is quite concrete (e. g. jn below, between, before, after, till, etc.), while that of some other prepositions may be weakened to a great extent (e. g. to, by, of).
For instance, the preposition to generally indicates direction or movement towards something:
Every night Sissy went to Rachel's lodging, and sat with her in her small neat room. (Dickens)
But in some cases the lexical meaning of the preposition to is weakened.
... all the house belongs to me, or will do in a few years. (Ch. Bronte)
Some prepositions are polysemantic and may express different relations; e. g.for:
Never once had Erik sensed the struggle for life. (Wilson) (purpose)
Even when their eyes had met and her sister had approached the bed, Louisa lay for minutes looking at her in silence... (Dickens) (time)
She could scarcely move her head for pain and heaviness, her eyes were strained and sore, and she was very weak. (Dickens) (cause)
§ 4. Some prepositions are homonymous with adverbs and conjunctions.
For instance, the prepositions after and before are homonymous with the adverbs after and before and with the conjunctions after and before.
There is an old saying that if a man has not fallen in love before forty, he had better not fall in love after. (Shaw) (ADVERB)
When he got back to Ann Arbor, he found Savina in a state of excitement because Trasker had heard from Regan after Erik had left. (Wilson) (CONJUNCTION)
"Where do you intend to stay tonight?" she asked after a moment. (Wilson) (PREPOSITION)
The colour rushed into Bosinnev's face but soon receded, leaving it sallow-brown as before. (Galsworthy) (ADVERB) He did not write to her, and it was almost a year before he began to see her again. (Wilson) (CONJUNCTION)
This letter seemed to afford her peculiar satisfaction; she read it through twice before replying to the landlady. (Mansfield) (PREPOSITION)
Though identical in form, adverbs, prepositions, and conjunctions are different parts of speech. The adverb, unlike the preposition and conjunction, serves as part of the sentence, e. g. after is an adverbial modifier of time, etc.
§ 5. Some prepositions (on, in, by, over; off up) are homonymous with postpositions.1
A preposition as well as a postposition does not perform any independent function in the sentence. But while a preposition denotes the relation between objects and phenomena, a postposition is part of a composite verb.
A preposition is not usually stressed, while a postposition usually bears the stress.
We've got to live on what we earn. (Cronin) (PREPOSITION)
He liked Erik more than any of the assistants the department had taken on in a long time, as much as he could like one of the younger men. (Wilson) (POSTPOSITION)
See Chapter VII, §2.