• Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show full table of contents Summary

The three previous sections have discussed three main classes of spatial prepositions: deictic, absolute and inherent prepositions. Our findings are summarized in Table 17 below. The class of deictic prepositions is rather small, and can also be used inherently. The class of absolute prepositions can be divided into two subclasses: the first is locational and possibly also directional in nature, whereas the second is only directional. The inherent prepositions can be divided into two main groups as well; those that denote a set of vectors (type I), and those that denote the null vector (type II). Type I can be further divided into prepositions that resemble the deictic prepositions in that they refer to the dimensions mentally attributed to the reference object (type Ia), and prepositions that make reference to the dimensional properties of the reference object (type Ib). Type II can be further divided into prepositions that require the located object to be in the reference object (type IIa) and prepositions that just assume there to be some contact between the located and the reference object (type IIb). The preposition te is special in that it can normally only be used in constructions that refer to a location, whereas all other locational prepositions can be used in constructions that refer to a location or a change of location. Finally, it can be observed that the prepositions can be divided into two main groups on the basis of whether the preposition says something about the orientation/direction of the vectors it denotes, or about their magnitude, that is, the distance between located and reference object. The first group includes all deictic and directional prepositions; for obvious reasons, the latter includes all prepositions that denote the null vector.

Table 17: Spatial prepositions (summary)
type preposition deictic inherent absolute locational directional vector
              null orient/dir magnitude
Deictic achter 'behind' + + + +
  naast 'next to' + + + +
  voor 'in front of' + + + +
AbsoluteType I boven 'above' + + +
  om 'around' + + ? +
  onder 'under' + + ? +
  rond 'around' + + ? +
  tussen'between' + + ? +
AbsoluteType II naar 'to' + + +
  over (I)'over/across' + + +
  tot (en met) 'until' + + +
  van 'from' + + +
  vanaf 'from' + + +
  vanuit 'from out of' + + +
  via 'via' + + +
  voorbij 'past' + + +
InherentType Ia tegenover 'opposite' + + +
  achter, naast, voor + + +
InherentType Ib binnen 'inside' + + ? +
  buiten 'outside' + + +
  bij 'near' + + +
  langs 'along' + + ? +
InherentType IIa in 'in' + + + +
  uit 'out of' + + + +
  door 'through' + + + + +
InherentType IIb aan 'on' + + + +
  op 'on' + + + +
  over (II) 'over' + + + +
  tegen 'against' + + + +
te te 'in/at' + + + +

We have mainly focused on cases in which the spatial PP is used as a complementive and is hence predicated of some nominal argument of the clause. It should be noted, however, that if the PP is used adverbially the preposition can also be considered a two-place predicate, the only difference being that the located entity is now no longer expressed by a nominal argument but by some projection of the verb. In (245), the preposition in establishes a spatial relation between the event of Marie and Jan playing soccer and the garden; the event e takes place in the garden, as indicated in (245b).

Example 245
a. Marie en Jan voetballen in de tuin.
  Marie and Jan  play.soccer  in the garden
  'Marie and Jan are playing soccer in the garden.'
b. IN (e, the garden)

Although the complementives and adverbially used PPs behave semantically essentially the same way, it should be noted that directional PPs cannot be used as adverbial phrases. This is consistent with the fact that postpositional phrases, which are always directional, cannot be used adverbially either; cf. Section

    This topic is the result of an automatic conversion from Word and may therefore contain errors.
    A free Open Access publication of the corresponding volumes of the Syntax of Dutch is available at OAPEN.org.