In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Adpositions

  • Introduction
  • Pedagogical and Reference Works
  • Bibliographies and Literature Reviews
  • Phonetics and Phonology
  • Morphology
  • Semantics and Pragmatics
  • Acquisition of Adpositions
  • Grammaticalization and Adpositions
  • Language Contact and Adpositions
  • Neurolinguistics and Adpositions
  • Works on Particular Types of Adposition

Linguistics Adpositions
Alan Libert
  • LAST REVIEWED: 28 April 2016
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 April 2016
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199772810-0111


Adposition is the name of a part of speech or word class. Although it may not be a familiar term to those outside of linguistics, the name of one of its subsets is: preposition. The latter type of word gets its name from the fact that it (generally) occurs before its complement; that is, the noun (or more correctly noun phrase) which it governs. Examples of these words in English are to, from, of, and under. In some languages, such as Turkish, the equivalent words are found after their complement, and they are called postpositions. The term adpositions is a general term that includes both prepositions and postpositions, as well as some more exotic items of the same sort: circumpositions (part of which occur before the complement, and part after it), inpositions (which occur within their complement) and what have been called ambipositions (which can occur either before or after their complement). Adpositions have been studied from various points of view, including syntax, semantics, and neurolinguistics, and this bibliography contains sections devoted to each of these. The number of works that has been written on them is very extensive (probably several thousand, leaving aside those works in which adpositions are not the main topic), and, because many of these works are descriptive, it is difficult to state that certain of them are seminal or of particular significance (unlike in more theoretical fields, such as generative syntax or grammaticalization). For these reasons, the list of works chosen for this article must necessarily be somewhat random—some have been more influential than others, but this may be in part because of their accessibility and/or the language(s) they treat. Nevertheless, this bibliography will give an idea of the type of research that has been done on adpositions, and it will include some of the best-known works on them. On the other hand, some lesser-known papers that deal with interesting or neglected aspects of prepositions are also listed. The works listed come from a variety of theoretical frameworks and a long span of time.

General Works

This section includes work on adpositions of a general nature, not limited to one language or group of languages, or to one aspect of this word class. Some of this work attempts to define adposition (and is thus similar to some of the works cited under Issues of Classification).

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