The Grammar Book - Third Edition - 10

7. Meaning. Given the numerous meanings or senses that one preposition can convey,
learners regularly encounter unexpected uses of prepositions. Such experiences can be
discussed and explored in the classroom. Ask students to look through texts outside of
class and to collect one or two uses of a preposition that they find strange or unexpected.
Back in class, have students share their examples and challenge them to make connections
to core meanings. Doing so often allows students to consider metaphor and metaphoric
extensions in language. If you have your own classroom, you may wish to keep a
"preposition chart," to which you or the students can add examples from time to time.
8. Use. Because of restricted collocation patterns, learners often have difficulty choosing the
right preposition. Dictionaries that include information on collocations can be a useful
tool for choosing prepositions appropriately. Online concordancers, like the one found at
Tom Cobb's Compleat Lexical Tutor (http://www.lextutor.ca/), are another helpful tool.
Encourage students to do their own concordances and to try to identify patterns. For
example, if a student is trying to decide between using central to and central for, he or she
could perform concordances for each and find that the former is the preferred collocation.
In another example, a student could compare arrive at with arrive in. A concordance should
reveal that the former tends to be used with buildings and events (e.g., arrive at a hotel, at a
party ) and more abstract entities (e.g., arrive at the answer, arrive at a good decision), while the
latter appears more often with cities, states, and countries (e.g., arrive in New York, arrive in
Guatemala).
9. Use. For reviewing prepositions, find a short biographical statement of someone of
interest to your students. Delete all the prepositions, which will primarily refer to time and
place. Have your students work in pairs or small groups to fill in the missing prepositions.

Exercises
Test your understanding of what has been presented.
1.

Provide an original sentence illustrating each of the following terms. Underline the
pertinent word(s) or word parts in your example:
a. complex preposition
b. deletable preposition

Exercises allows readers
to apply what they have
learned, and focuses on
two areas: comprehension
and application.

(i.) optional
(ii.) obligatory
c. literal spatial meaning of in
d. metaphorical extension of in
e. collocation with preposition
f. preposition-noun-preposition construction
g. co-occurring verb and preposition
h. co-occurring adjective and preposition
2.

Identify the trajectors and landmarks for the following prepositional phrases:
a. I saw the computer on the desk.
b. This is a time for healing.
Chapter 21: Prepositions

10

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The Grammar Book - Third Edition

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