Prepositions are Evil!

Okay, this is another Lady of the Cakes-inspired post. She thinks prepositions are evil, too.

(She also thinks verbs are evil. I’m not so fussed with verbs. Verbs and I have come to an understanding. Then again, I’m no longer trying to live solely through Spanish, which no doubt accounts for that.)

Check out her post on prepositions here:

And her post on verbs here:

Even though I don’t really mind verbs at the moment, I totally agree with the whole prepositions thing. I mean, if you conjugate a verb wrong, 99% of the time, you’ll still be understood. Except in Spanish, because Spanish verbs have evil twins. And you don’t use personal pronouns. But I’m not going to get into that. But prepositions… get a preposition wrong, and you can, as Lady of the Cakes so eruditely puts it, change the whole meaning of a sentence. Which is made even worse in German by the fact that if you get the preposition wrong, chances are you’ll get the adjectival endings wrong, too. (Even though I usually fudge over endings of any sort, be they adjectival or pronominal.)

I’ve posted about the evils of Gaelic prepositions recently, here: and here, at the end: So I won’t get into that again.

But prepositions can really stuff you around in other languages, too. Yes, in English, you might be used to waiting for someone, being scared of something, looking after someone, going by car, or being angry with someone, and that might seem perfectly natural to you. But consider this: In German, you wait on someone (which, now I think of it, you can do in English, too. It usually means you’re they’re butler, but it can mean you’re waiting for them to arrive), you’re not scared but in fact have fear from something, in French you don’t look after children, you simply guard them, and in German you go with the car rather than by it.

And even when you think you’ve got a handle on the idea that the correct preposition you use changes from language to language, you then come to the startling and unwanted realisation that they change within a language, too! Are you look at something or on it? Are you angry with someone or at them? Why is it that some Germans are in the post office, while others inexplicably seem to be on it?

And then you find out that German not only uses different prepositions to English for just about everything imaginable, but prepositions also change the case you use! Which happens in most languages, to my knowledge, but there are two cases which German prepositions can sent the rest of the sentence into, and the reasoning isn’t always clear. (I’m pretty certain that if there’s any sort of movement at all, it goes to the accusative, while it being stationary means it’s in the dative. But whether there’s movement or not isn’t always clear, and like English grammar rules, there are exceptions!).

Oh, and Gaelic conjugates its prepositions. I like Gaelic, because it doesn’t conjugate its verbs (at least, not in a way recognisable to the speaker of a Romance or Germanic language – the verb doesn’t change depending on who is doing it, but rather whether it’s a negative, positive, or questioning statement, or some combination thereof). But then I discovered it conjugates its prepositions, in pretty much the same way a Romance or Germanic language conjugates its verbs. (I know Scandinavian languages may or may not be Germanic languages, being so similar, but in this instance they’re not, because they don’t conjugate their verbs).

For example:

Air (on)
Mi – orm (I – on me)
Thu – ort (You – on you)
E – air (He – on him)
I – oirre (She – on her)
Sinn – oirnn (We – on us)
Sibh – oirbh (You – on you)
Iad – orra (They – on them)


Le (with)
Mi – leam (with me)
Thu – leat (with you)
E – leis (with him)
I – leatha (with her)
Sinn – leinn (with us)
Sibh – leibh (with you)
Iad – leotha (with them)

Fun. But surprisingly easy to guess. Particularly as Gaelic uses prepositions all over the place, so if you have even a few words of Gaelic, chances are the majority of them are prepositions.

So, there you go, the evils of prepositions. Here are three of them to leave you with:

1 – Prepositions used with verbs change from language to language.

2 – In German, prepositions send sentences either into the accusative or the dative, which changes the endings of everything.

3 – In Gaelic, prepositions conjugate.


One thought on “Prepositions are Evil!

  1. dromardennes says:

    Only a smiling visitor here to share the love (:, btw outstanding style .

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