Date: [this is an updated old posting, previous to LSEG4 edition]
". . . I have a very, very urgent question: prepositions after certain verbs, adjectives,
and nouns--do they have any lexical meaning there?
I hope you will answer this question as soon as possible since I cannot find the answer in many of the numerous grammar books I
have, and I need this answer really bad . . ."
From N I - Belarus (Russian Federation)
A10. Using prepositions in English is one of the most difficult grammatical
topics, despite the fact they appear to be such perplexingly simple. The short answer to question 10 is this.
According to LSEG4, when they are taken alone, prepositions have absolutely no (lexical) meanings. In context however, preposition help
in setting complex meanings of distance, position, (abstract) state, dynamic movement etc. Note that, morphologically, prepositions
form a local tiny/atomic structure as follows:
A. the sentence element that requires the preposition (a verb in most
B. the preposition
C. a prepositional complement
She goes[A] to[B] London[C].
Prepositions [B] are taken together with their complements [C], excepting the instances of "verbs
with prepositions" and "verbs with adverbial particles and prepositions". Semantically, prepositions are used
to clarify (in meaning) various static or dynamic states their complements (or their determinants) have/exhibit.
For details, examples, lists of verbs with prepositions, lists of verbs with adverbial particles and prepositions, and for
particular grammatical mechanisms employing prepositions we recommend our books: Logically Structured English
Grammar 4 and LSEG4-Exercises Workbook.
Now, many English verbs may be followed by (any or) a few prepositions; however, there is a large set of verbs which require they
are followed only by particular prepositions: this is the group of verbs with prepositions. Note that a verb with
preposition, or a verb with an adverb and a preposition, becomes a phrasal verb: this means, the component words lose
their particular meanings (semantically).
In addition, there are many prepositional complements (adjectives, nouns, adverbs) which are accompanied only by particular
prepositions, and there are no specific grammatical rules to control that aspect. In those particular instances, prepositions help in forming the meaning of their complements. Again, English
prepositions have no meanings by themselves.
Now, this is just the "short answer"; for the "long one" . . . Well, you should study LSEG4.