Author Topic: Part 11 - The preposition as another type of functional connective - 5  (Read 5863 times)

Joe Carillo

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Timely Reacquaintance with Connectives and Discourse Markers


For 12 consecutive days from June 1 to June 12, 2020, the Forum is running a special retrospective of its comprehensive series in 2017 on the English connectives and discourse markers. These connectives—the coordinating conjunctions, subordinating conjunctions, conjunctive adverbs, prepositions, and discourse markers—are the basic tools of English for enabling readers or listeners to navigate the sense and logic of what’s written or being spoken about. Today, the series takes up the prepositions that serve as connectives for establishing logical relationships.


Part 11 - The preposition as another type of functional connective - 5

We’re done with our review of the prepositions as conjunctions for indicating relationships in space and in time, so we’ll now turn our sights to their role as connectives for establishing logical relationships.

As earlier pointed out in this series, some prepositions work very much like conjunctions and conjunctive adverbs—but with a major structural difference. A preposition typically establishes a relationship between ideas within the same clause; this is in contrast with a conjunction or conjunctive adverb, which typically establishes a relationship between clauses or across sentences and across paragraphs. Depending on how the sentence is constructed, in fact, some prepositions can also function as conjunctions and adverbs—sometimes even as adjectives.


To make the functional distinctions clearer, let’s take the word “since” as an example. It can work as a preposition: “That company has been around since 1852.” As subordinating conjunction: “The widow regained her zest for life since she remarried last year.” And as conjunctive adverb: “The widow remarried last year; since then, she regained her zest for life.”

Here now are the most common prepositions for indicating a specific logical relationship between ideas:

Prepositions that establish the additive relationship. “Besides,” “in addition to,” and “as well as” allow the adding of similar information within the same clause: “The movie was critically acclaimed besides becoming a box-office hit.” “The irate hotel customer demanded moral damages in addition to refunds.” “The accused was eager as well as ready to settle with the complainant.”

Prepositions that establish the comparative or conditional relationship. “Like” and “as” can establish similarity between ideas within the same clause: “The spurned wife bawled like a child.” “The disenfranchised voters complained as a group.”

The prepositions “according to” and “in compliance with” establish conformity to an idea:According to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, the modern human evolved from an earlier humanoid species.” “The litigants dropped their counterclaims in compliance with their compromise agreement.”

The prepositions “despite,” “in spite of,” “as opposed to,” “in contrast to,” “instead of,” and “notwithstanding” can link opposing or contrastive ideas within the same clause: “The aggrieved woman forgave her husband despite his indiscretions.” “My friend became a successful professional in spite of his family’s poverty.” “The congressional loser received an improbable 50,283 votes as opposed to the winner’s 50,300 votes.” “Summers in Baguio City are adequately cool in contrast to those in the Luzon lowlands.” “The priest won as provincial governor notwithstanding his rival’s much-vaunted political machinery.”

The prepositions “against,” “contrary to,” and “rather than” establish opposition between ideas within the same clause: “Stepfather was pitted against son in the sensational inheritance case.” “The incumbent mayor won contrary to popular sentiment.” “The opulent gift scandalized rather than pleased the bride.”

The preposition “without” establishes a condition or the absence or lack of something: “The rebellious son vowed to finish college without parental support.” “The couple fought in public without embarrassment.”

Prepositions that establish the causal or reason relationship. Six prepositions—“due to,” “because of,” “as a result of,” “on account of,” “in consequence of,” and “thanks to”—are used to introduce a reason within the same clause: “The Tokyo flight was delayed due to inclement weather.” “The family corporation faltered because of intense sibling rivalry.” “The top bank executive was ousted on account of serious personal indiscretions.” “The island sunk in consequence of the massive volcanic eruption.” “The country’s financial situation has improved, thanks to the growth of its manpower exports.”

The preposition “for” is used to indicate purpose, and “from” to indicate a condition of release or removal: “The company established a professorial chair for entrepreneurial education.” “All that pill can offer is temporary relief from the common cold.”

This brings to a close our full-scale review of the English connectives. We will wind up this series tomorrow with a discussion of discourse markers for contextualizing our ideas.

(Next: Part 12 - Using discourse markers for contextualizing ideas )      June 12, 2020
« Last Edit: June 10, 2020, 11:48:09 PM by Joe Carillo »