Inflected preposition

In linguistics, an inflected preposition is a type of word that occurs in some languages, that corresponds to the combination of a preposition and a personal pronoun. For instance, the Welsh word iddo (/ɪðɔ/) is an inflected form of the preposition i meaning "to/for him"; it would not be grammatically correct to say *i fe.

Terminology and analysis

There are many different names for inflected prepositions, including conjugated preposition, pronominal preposition, prepositional pronoun, and suffixed pronoun.[1] (But note that the term prepositional pronoun also has a different sense, for which see Prepositional pronoun.)

Historically, inflected prepositions can develop from the contraction of a preposition with a personal pronoun; however, they are commonly reanalysed as inflected words by native speakers and by traditional grammar.

Language change over time can obscure the similarity between the conjugated preposition and the preposition-pronoun combination. For example, in Scottish Gaelic "with" is le /lɛ/ and "him" is e /ɛ/, but "with him" is leis /leʃ/.


Insular Celtic

All Insular Celtic languages have inflected prepositions; these languages include Scottish Gaelic, Irish, Manx, Welsh, Cornish and Breton.


The following table shows the colloquial inflected forms of the preposition i (to/for). The optional pronouns that follow the inflected forms are given in parentheses.

Singular Plural
First Person imi, i mi, ifi, i fi ini, i ni, inni
Second Person iti, i ti ichi, i chi
Third Person Masculine iddo (fe/fo) iddyn (nhw)
Feminine iddi (hi)

The sentence Mae hi wedi ei roi iddo fo (she has given it to him) required the inflected form of i, mae hi wedi ei roi i fo is not grammatically correct.

The following table gives the inflected colloquial forms of the preposition o (of/from). The optional pronouns that follow the inflected forms are given in parentheses.

Singular Plural
First Person ohonof (i), ohono (i) ohonon (ni)
Second Person ohonot (ti) ohonoch (chi)
Third Person Masculine ohono (fe/fo) ohonyn (nhw)
Feminine ohoni (hi)


Inflected prepositions are found in many Semitic languages, including Hebrew,[2] Arabic, Assyrian Neo-Aramaic and Amharic.

For example, the Arabic preposition على (/ʕalaː) on inflects as علَيَّ (/ʕalajːa/) on me, علَيْكَ) (/ʕalajka/) on you (m.s.), علَيْهِ (/ʕalajhi/) on him, etc.

Other languages

Languages that do not have full paradigms of inflected prepositions may nonetheless allow contraction of prepositions and pronouns to a more limited extent.

In formal registers of Polish, a handful of common prepositions allow amalgamated forms with third-person pronouns: na niego ("on him/it") → nań.[3] However, these contracted forms are very archaic and rarely heard in daily speech.

In many Iberian Romance languages, such as Spanish and Portuguese, the preposition con or com ("with") has special forms incorporating certain pronouns (depending on the language). For example, in Spanish and Asturian conmigo means "with me". Historically, this developed from the Latin use of cum ("with") after a pronoun, as in mecum ("with me").

Inflected prepositions occur in the Ruhr dialect of German.[4]

Inflected postpositions

As languages can make use of postpositions rather than prepositions, so do some languages have inflected postpositions. Bororo, an indigenous language of Brazil, uses postpositions in all contexts: tori ji "about the mountains". When these modify a pronoun rather than a full noun, the phrase contracts into an inflected postposition[5] (and therefore looks like a pronominal prefix, rather than a suffix as in the examples above): bagai "for", i-wagai "for me".

See also


  1. ^ Stalmaszczyk, Piotr (2007). "Prepositional Possessive Constructions in Celtic Languages and Celtic Englishes". The Celtic Languages in Contact: Papers from the Workshop within the Framework of the XIII International Conference of Celtic Studies, Bonn, 26–27 July 2007.
  2. ^ Glinert, Lewis. Modern Hebrew: An Essential Grammar (2nd ed.). Routledge UK. pp. 41–44. ISBN 0-415-10190-5.
  3. ^ Swan, Oscar E. (2002). A Grammar of Contemporary Polish. Bloomington, IN: Slavica. ISBN 0-89357-296-9.
  4. ^ Bariş Kabak and René Schiering (2006). "The Phonology and Morphology of Function Word Contractions in German". The Journal of Comparative Germanic Linguistics. 9: 53. doi:10.1007/s10828-005-4533-8.
  5. ^ Crowell, Thomas Harris (1979). A Grammar of Bororo. Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms International.

External links

Breton language

Breton (; brezhoneg [bʁeˈzõːnɛk] (listen) or [brəhõˈnek] in Morbihan) is a Southwestern Brittonic language of the Celtic and Indo-European language family, spoken in Brittany.

Breton was brought from Great Britain to Armorica by migrating Britons during the Early Middle Ages; it is thus an Insular Celtic language, though closely related to the Continental Celtic Gaulish language which had been spoken in pre-Roman Gaul. Breton is most closely related to Cornish, both being Southwestern Brittonic languages. Welsh and the extinct Cumbric are the more distantly related Western Brittonic languages.

The other regional language of Brittany, Gallo, is a langue d'oïl. Gallo is a Romance language descended from Latin (unlike the similarly named ancient Celtic language Gaulish), and a close relative of French.

Having declined from more than 1,000,000 speakers around 1950 to about 200,000 in the first decade of the 21st century, Breton is classified as "severely endangered" by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger. However, the number of children attending bilingual classes has risen 33% between 2006 and 2012 to 14,709.

Continuous and progressive aspects

The continuous and progressive aspects (abbreviated CONT and PROG) are grammatical aspects that express incomplete action ("to do") or state ("to be") in progress at a specific time: they are non-habitual, imperfective aspects.

In the grammars of many languages the two terms are used interchangeably. This is also the case with English: a construction such as "He is washing" may be described either as present continuous or as present progressive. However, there are certain languages for which two different aspects are distinguished. In Chinese, for example, progressive aspect denotes a current action, as in "he is getting dressed", while continuous aspect denotes a current state, as in "he is wearing fine clothes".

As with other grammatical categories, the precise semantics of the aspects vary from language to language, and from grammarian to grammarian. For example, some grammars of Turkish count the -iyor form as a present tense; some as a progressive tense; and some as both a continuous (nonhabitual imperfective) and a progressive (continuous non-stative) aspect.

Modern Hebrew grammar

Modern Hebrew grammar is partly analytic, expressing such forms as dative, ablative, and accusative using prepositional particles rather than morphological cases.

On the other hand, Modern Hebrew grammar is also fusional synthetic: inflection plays a role in the formation of verbs and nouns (using non-concatenative discontinuous morphemes realised by vowel infixation) and the declension of prepositions (i.e. with pronominal suffixes). For example, where as the ancient Hebrew phrase for "my grandfather" was sav-í "grandfather-1stPerson.Singular.Possessive", in Israeli Hebrew it is sába shelí "grandfather of-me".

Scottish Gaelic grammar

This article describes the grammar of the Scottish Gaelic language.

Spanish prepositions

Prepositions in the Spanish language —like those in other languages— are a set of connecting words (such as con, de or para) that serve to indicate a relationship between a content word (noun, verb, or adjective) and a following noun phrase (or noun, or pronoun), known as the object of the preposition. The relationship is typically spatial or temporal, but prepositions express other relationships as well. As implied by the name, Spanish "pre-positions" (like those of English) are positioned before their objects. Spanish does not place these function words after their objects; the language does not use postpositions.

Spanish prepositions can be classified as either "simple", consisting of a single word, or "compound", consisting of two or three words. The prepositions of Spanish form a closed class, meaning that they constitute a limited set to which new items are rarely added. Many Spanish school pupils memorize the following list: a, ante, bajo, cabe, con, contra, de, desde, durante, en, entre, hacia, hasta, mediante, para, por, según, sin, so, sobre, and tras. This list includes two archaic prepositions — so (“under”) and cabe (“beside”) — and it excludes vía (“by way of, via”) and pro (“in favor of”), two Latinisms recently adopted into the language.

Some common Spanish prepositions, simple and compound, are listed below, with their meanings.

Lexical categories and their features

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