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Prepositions (from latin praepositio , preceeded ' ) in which Schulgrammatik also prepositions or prefaces and in the Germanistic literature case adds a hurry or position words called, are a part of speech , a closed class forms and is thus located between content word and grammatical marker. Prepositions usually require a noun group or a pronoun as a syntactic addition and assign this to a case (in languages ​​that clearly mark cases); In German, prepositions can also be used with adverbs . Together with their additions and possibly other modifiers, they form prepositional phrases . Prepositions can be combined with conjunctions as relators, i.e. words that indicate a relationship. You can use local, temporal, causal, concessional, modal, etc. a. Carry meanings or serve to mark grammatical relationships. Prepositions themselves cannot be inflected in most languages, including German; Examples of inflection of prepositions can be found e.g. B. in modern Celtic languages .

Definition of terms

According to their name, prepositions are elements that come before the expression they govern. But there are also trailing words that exactly similar functions (trailing prepositions or postpositions . Called, for example in German: simplicity 's sake ). There are also constructions that surround the ruled expression (bracketing prepositions or circumpositions - example: for the sake of peace ). Some prepositions in German, so-called ambipositions, can be used either as prepositions or postpositions: against, along (with different cases), opposite, due to . Prepositions, postpositions and circumpositions are summarized by the generic term adposition . In a broader sense, however, all adpositions, including post and circumpositions, are often referred to as “prepositions”.

In formal models of syntax, the category symbol P is common for all types of adpositions .

Origin of prepositions

It is commonly believed that prepositions can develop from other parts of speech, such as nouns, adjectives, local adverbs, and verbs, through a process of lexicalization . In the process, previous concrete, spatial meanings often change to temporal and / or abstractly transferred meanings. Here are some examples of such developments from recent German history:

origin prepositions
noun given, based, due, thanks, as a result, strength, loud, help, instead of, despite, due, time, in favor
adjective exclusively, evidently, regarding, including, far, near, not far, according to
original participle as an adjective without prejudice, disregarded, notwithstanding, during, accordingly

Grammatical properties of prepositions: Rection

In contrast to adverbs and conjunctions , prepositions have the property of direction , i. that is, they determine the case of their additions.

Prepositions occur with a certain case :

case prepositions Explanations
Genitive minus, in view of, instead of, outside, bar, by virtue of, on this side, including, along, as a result, within, in the midst, beyond, force, along, by means, whether, above, on the side, in spite of, without prejudice, notwithstanding, below , not far, during, because of, in favor Many prepositions that govern the genitive belong to the written and administrative language. Some prepositions that govern the genitive in the written language are often used in colloquial terms with the dative.
Genitive or dative thanks, loud The prepositions loud and thanks are used with both the genitive and the dative without affecting the meaning. With dank , the original dative is increasingly replaced by the genitive.
dative from, except, at, opposite, corresponding, opposite, according, with, (with) including, after, next, near, alongside, since, from, to Here also show up occasionally transitions to a Genitivrektion ( appropriately, according to u. A.) As Hyper correctness or as a reflection of the word class transfer in newly emerging prepositions.
Dative or accusative on, on, behind, in, next to, over, under, in front of, between With these local prepositions (the so-called alternating prepositions) you have to choose between dative and accusative. The dative is used when the preposition and noun group indicate a place (example: he is sitting by the window in the living room and observing people on the street ). The accusative is used when a destination or a destination is specified (example: he goes into the living room , sits down at the window and looks out at the street ).
accusative until, through, for, against, ever, without, around, against

In the case of relatively fixed connections of verbs with certain prepositions from the group of alternating prepositions, the case to be used cannot be logically inferred and depends on the respective connection. Connections of prepositions and certain articles (zur, fürs, im) are called contractions .

Meaning properties

The relationships denoted by prepositions include the following types, among others:

  • Local: (local prepositions)
    • to indicate the place of origin (where from?): from, from, from with dative
    • to indicate the place (where?):
      at, on, except, at, opposite, behind, in, next to, over, under, in front of, between with dative;
      apart, outside, this side, along, in the middle, inside, beyond, along, above, below, not far with genitive;
      around with accusative
    • to indicate the direction of the destination and the destination (where to?):
      an, on, up, through, against, behind, in, beside, over, under, in front of, between with accusative;
      after, to with dative
    • Examples:
      • I put the milk in the refrigerator - the milk is in the ( = in ) the refrigerator
      • the car is driving on the freeway - the car is driving on the freeway
      • the park is across the river
  • Temporal: (temporal prepositions)
    • to specify the time:
      from, at, with, after, from, before, to, between with dative;
      against with accusative
    • to indicate the time, the day or the time of day: an with dative
    • to indicate the time, the season and the month: in with dative
    • to indicate the time and time: um with accusative
    • to specify the duration:
      inside, in, since with dative;
      auf, bis, durch, for, über with accusative,
      outside, inside, during, time with genitive
    • Examples:
      • on sunday
      • before the party
      • during the meal (there is a "before" and a "after")
      • time of his life (there is no "before" or "after")
      • in two hours
      • towards evening ..
  • Justifying: (causal prepositions in the broader sense)
    • in view of, on the occasion, on, due to, for, for (old), at, as for, regarding, thanks, by, for, according, half, as a result, force, loud, lack, with, means [t], after, whether ( old), on the part, in spite of, over, in order, without prejudice, notwithstanding, under, mediated, by, before, because of, to, according to, for the purpose
    • Subdivision:
      • causal in the narrower sense / consecutive: he could not be here in time due to a car accident.
      • instrumental: the car was damaged in an accident.
      • conditional: Under the given circumstances he could not arrive in time.
      • concessional: Despite the accident, he tried to get there on time.
      • final: He took a taxi to keep his appointment.
    • Examples:
      • due to this fact (instrumental)
      • given his debts (conditional)
      • on the occasion of my birthday
      • despite the bad weather (concessional)
  • Concerning the manner: (modal prepositions)
    • minus, on, off, exclusively, except, at, to, to, up to, up to, including, contrary, exclusive, for, against, opposite, in, inclusive, with, with, with, without, with, special ( old), [an] instead of, under, from, against, to, against, plus
    • Subdivision:
      • Manner: This article is written in German.
      • Degree, measure: Wikipedia is in praise highly.
      • Condition: The cover is made of leather.
      • Extension: sales price plus shipping costs were charged.
      • Contrast: compared to the past, less is read today.
      • Missing: There was only water instead of wine.
    • Examples:
      • with discipline (caution: using a hammer is instrumental )
      • in English (caution: on the table is local )

Note: Many prepositions denote several relationships!

  • take something out of the fridge (local)
  • a table made of wood (modal)
  • to do something out of fear (causal)

Some prepositions do not fit into any of these four groups.

Prepositions and conjunctions

Relationships, which are denoted by prepositions with noun groups, can sometimes also be expressed by conjunctions and a subordinate clause . Example: In wet conditions please drive slowly! If it is wet, please drive slowly!

relationship preposition conjunction
final to in order to
causal because of because there
conditional at if, if
concessive in spite of although
temporal later in front before
at the same time while, at while, as, if
prematurely to after this

Verb prefixes

Prepositions can also appear as verb prefixes .

Examples: from make, on set, with spots, a place, by setting, to hang, to wrap, to stick to cases.

There are two types:

(I) the separable prefix (often referred to as a particle ):

  • ... that the employees a label on stuck .
  • The clerk stuck a label on .
  • The clerk had a label on to stick .

(II) the non-separable prefix:

  • ... that Christ from the Reichstag to wraps .
  • Christo to wrapped the Reichstag.
  • Christo still had to wrap the Reichstag .

The two types of verb prefixes differ in their emphasis in the word: Detachable prefixes are emphasized ( to stick a label on ), non-separable prefixes are not emphasized ( to wrap the Reichstag ).

See also


  • Hadumod Bußmann (Ed.) With the collaboration of Hartmut Lauffer: Lexikon der Sprachwissenschaft. 4th, revised and bibliographically supplemented edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 2008, ISBN 978-3-520-45204-7 .

Web links

Wiktionary: preposition  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: German / Directory of prepositions  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Preface  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Hadumod Bußmann (Ed.): Lexicon of Linguistics. 3rd updated and expanded edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 2002, ISBN 3-520-45203-0 (adposition with further references).
  2. on the delimitation of grammaticalization and the emergence of complex prepositions cf. also Christian Lehmann: New reflections on grammaticalization and lexicalization,  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Toter Link /   2005
  3. Hadumod Bußmann (Ed.): Lexicon of Linguistics. 3rd, updated and expanded edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 2002, ISBN 3-520-45203-0 (preposition).
  4. ^ Claudio di Meola: The rise of the prepositional genitive in German - a grammaticalization phenomenon. In: Lingua 114 (2004), pp. 165-182.