Prepositions Tell Relationship

While I don’t recall all the grammar I learned in school, I do remember that the preposition was viewed as a lowly part of speech. I personally think that it is a very important part of speech because it shows relationship.

In more recent times, I’ve often been faced with several games that trainers play to further reinforce the unimportance of the preposition. One game is a neatly-typed paragraph on an overhead slide with “of” at the end of one line and repeated at the beginning of the next line, with the question coming from the trainer, “what’s wrong with this paragraph?” Another game also includes a paragraph, with the trainer asking how many words are in the paragraph, hoping that most people will skip over most or all the prepositions.

Well, I write a lot. And I have to tell you that I often try multiple prepositions to find just the right one to convey my meaning. In a Guided Meditation CD (“Confidence of Feeling Good”) that I recently produced, I played with prepositions to guide listeners to focus on their breath. Here’s an excerpt:

Relax, once again, into your breath. …… Give your full attention to your breath. …… Feel yourself moving with your breath, …… flowing in, flowing out. …… Breathing in, breathing out. …… Notice whatever you notice about your breath. …..

I’m not going to ask you to count all the prepositions, I promise. A preposition usually indicates the time, space or logical relationship of its object to something else in the sentence. In the above example, we notice the relationship of you and your breath. In my view, relationship is very important.

The most common prepositions are about, above, across, after, against, along, among, around, at, before, behind, below, beneath, beside, besides, between, beyond, by, down, during, except, for, from, in, inside, into, like, near, of, off, on, onto, out, outside, over, through, throughout, till, to, toward, under, underneath, until, up, upon, with, without.

You may have learned, as I did, that ending a sentence with a preposition is a serious breach of grammatical etiquette. Although a remedy is often easy, the results sometimes produce a clumsy sentence. Those who dislike the rule are fond of recalling Churchill’s rejoinder: “That is nonsense up with which I shall not put.” And you may also have heard the child’s complaint: “What did you bring that book that I don’t like to be read to out of up for?”

So, today, what are you about?

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