Spatial Prepositions

(Under Development)


This discussion of the spatial class of prepositions is based on an examination of the spatial senses identified in The Preposition Project (TPP) with the Pattern Dictionary of English Prepositions (PDEP). This set of senses is discussed in paragraphs 9.15 to 9.29 of Quirk et al. There are 151 spatial senses under 78 prepositions. This is the largest class of prepositions and has several subtypes. Spatial prepositions have physical location objects and are in some sort of relation with other parts of the sentence. In many cases, the preposition itself expresses a further perspective on or set of properties about the location. Also, in many cases, the governor may indicate some further relation about the location. Spatial prepositions are typically adjuncts (relating an event or state of affairs to a location) or postmodifiers (relating some entity to a location). Many prepositions express metaphorical or abstract locations, but these are treated as Scalar prepositions. (See Preposition Classes for how this class relates to other classes. For the supersenses (unlexicalized categores for prepositions), see PrepWiki; the PDEP database is being kept synchronized with this project, as they are assigned to TPP senses.)

Category Types

All strict spatial prepositions involve real, physical locations. The principal types include: simple position, relative position, path (passsage), orientation, or pervasiveness.

Selection Criteria

The complements of spatial prepositions seem to fall into two main types: locations and entities. Entities are always used as reference points, while locations are not necessarily related to some other location. The governors for locational prepositions may be stative or eventive. The governors for prepositions expressing relative positions are other entities.

References

  1. Quirk, R., Greenbaum, S., Leech, G., and Svartik, J. 1985. A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language. Longman: New York, pp. 673-84.

Comments to: Ken Litkowski  Modified: December 28 2016 22:47:36.

PDEP Spatial Class (251 senses)
PrepositionSenseSubclassSrtypeSupersenseClassedCountPctNF
\'gainst10(4)SimplePosition:DestinationBackstopDeicticTime,LocationYes0100.00.19
\'mongst1(1)PervasivenessPlaceSaturatedLocationYes0100.00.19
\'pon1(1)SimplePositionSurfaceSupportingLocationYes0100.00.19
\'pon15(7a)SimplePosition:ConveyanceConveyanceLocationYes0100.00.19
\'pon16(7b)SimplePosition:ConveyanceConveyanceDestinationYes0100.00.19
\'pon2(1a)SimplePositionPlaceSurroundingLocationYes0100.00.19
\'pon3(1b)SimplePositionSurfaceResistingYes0100.00.19
\'pon4(1c)SimplePositionBodyPartOtherYes0100.00.19
\'pon5(1d)SimplePosition:DestinationSurfaceSupportingDestinationYes0100.00.19
\'pon7(2)SimplePositionGroundLocationYes0100.00.19
abaft1(1)BehindShipPartYes2100.00.37
aboard1(1)SimplePosition:ConveyanceConveyanceYes236100.043.78
aboard2(1a)SimplePosition:ConveyanceConveyanceYes1100.00.19
about3(2)PervasivenessPlaceSaturated2DAreaYes2100.089.35
about3(2)-1PervasivenessPlaceSaturated1DTrajectory,2DAreaYes2100.089.35
about4(3)SimplePositionPlaceLocationYes0100.044.67
above1(1)AboveThingSurmountedLocation,1DTrajectoryYes29100.0133.41
above2(1a)AboveThingSurmountedLocationYes14100.064.40
above3(1b)AboveThingSurveyedLocationYes13100.059.80
above4(2)AboveThingSurmountedLocationYes16100.073.60
across1(1)PathPlaceTraversed1DTrajectoryYes63100.0340.91
across2(2)OrientationPlaceRelativeLocation,1DTrajectoryYes108100.0584.41
afore2(2)BeforeThingFacingLocationYes0100.00.19
afore3(2a)PresenceAuthorityFacingOtherYes0100.00.19
after5(2)BehindObjectInFrontYes1100.031.43
after6(2a)OrientationTargetOfMotionDirectionYes0100.031.43
against10(4)SimplePosition:DestinationBackstopLocationYes4100.085.74
agin10(4)SimplePosition:DestinationBackstopDeicticTime,LocationYes0100.00.19
ahead of1(1)BeforeThingInFrontLocationYes45100.032.65
all over1(1)PervasivenessThingPermeatedLocation,2DAreaYes186100.0244.69
all over2(1a)PervasivenessBodyPartPermeatedYes11100.014.47
along1(1)PathPath1DTrajectoryYes36100.0185.61
along3(2)OrientationPlaceAlignedTo1DTrajectoryYes82100.0422.79
alongside1(1)BesidePlaceBesideYes61100.070.92
amid1(1)PervasivenessThingSurroundingYes47100.023.75
amidst1(1)PervasivenessThingSurroundingYes31100.05.75
among1(1)PervasivenessPlaceSaturatedLocationYes28100.0328.68
around1(1)SimplePositionThingSurroundedLocationYes43100.0287.08
around3(2)PervasivenessPlaceSaturated2DArea,StateYes91100.0607.54
around4(3)PathGroundOfRoute1DTrajectoryYes5100.033.38
around4(3)-1PathGroundOfRouteLocation,1DTrajectoryYes4100.026.71
around5(4)SimplePositionThingEncircled1DTrajectoryYes28100.0186.94
as far as1(1)SimplePosition:DestinationDistanceLimitYes45100.057.76
aslant1(1)BesidePlaceRelativeYes0100.00.19
astraddle1(1)AboveThingStraddledYes0100.00.19
astride1(1)AboveThingStraddledYes14100.02.60
astride2(2)OrientationThingBridgedYes32100.05.94
at1(1)SimplePositionPlaceLocationYes182100.014052.88
athwart1(1)OrientationPlaceRelativeYes0100.00.19
atop1(1)AboveThingSurmountedLocationYes51100.09.46
back of1(1)BehindObjectInFrontYes0100.00.19
before2(2)BeforeThingFacingLocationYes14100.0216.28
before3(2a)PresenceAuthorityFacingLocusYes24100.0370.77
behind1(1)BehindThingInterveningLocationYes81100.0373.04
behind3(2)BehindThingFollowedLocationYes9100.041.45
behind4(2a)BehindPersonInFrontYes14100.064.48
below1(1)BelowThingAboveLocation,LocusYes50100.098.16
below4(2)BelowThingAboveLocationYes27100.053.01
beneath1(1)BelowThingAboveLocationYes87100.082.43
beneath2(1a)BelowThingBlanketingLocationYes71100.067.27
beneath3(2)BelowThingAboveLocationYes29100.027.48
beside1(1)BesideThingAdjacentLocationYes219100.0151.44
besides2(n)BesideThingAdjacentYes2100.00.69
between1(1)SimplePositionPlaceBisectedLocation,1DTrajectoryYes14100.0611.47
betwixt1(1)SimplePositionPlaceBisectedLocation,1DTrajectoryYes4100.00.74
beyond1(1)OrientationThingPassedLocationYes19100.079.82
beyond2(1a)BesideBoundaryLocation,StateYes38100.0159.64
by18(5)BesidePlaceBesideLocationYes2100.0238.43
by19(5a)PathPlacePast1DTrajectoryYes0100.0119.21
by way of1(1)PathRouteYes33100.018.27
chez1(1)SimplePositionResidenceYes20100.03.71
down1(1)PathThingDescended1DTrajectoryYes41100.059.78
down2(1a)PathPlaceDownstreamCourse,LocationYes13100.018.95
down3(1b)PathPlaceFurtherAlongCourse,LocationYes114100.0166.21
down4(1c)SimplePosition:DestinationPlaceLocationYes12100.017.50
ex1(1)SimplePosition:OriginSourceOfGoodsYes1100.00.19
ex2(1a)SimplePosition:OriginRepositoryYes0100.00.19
for7(6)SimplePosition:DestinationDestinationDestination,TimeYes2100.0317.97
fore2(2)BeforeThingFacingLocationYes0100.00.19
fore3(2a)PresenceAuthorityFacingOtherYes0100.00.19
fornent1(1)BesidePlaceBesideYes0100.00.19
frae1(1)SimplePosition:OriginPlaceOfOriginInitialLocation,StartStateYes0100.00.19
frae2(1a)SimplePosition:OriginOriginOfMeasureLocationYes0100.00.19
frae4(3)SimplePosition:OriginPlaceOfOriginInitialLocation,Location,SourceYes0100.00.19
frae8(5)SimplePosition:OriginPlaceOfObserverLocationYes0100.00.19
from1(1)SimplePosition:OriginPlaceOfOriginInitialLocation,StartStateYes75100.06261.67
from2(1a)SimplePosition:OriginOriginOfMeasureLocationYes6100.0500.93
from4(3)SimplePosition:OriginPlaceOfOriginDonor/Speaker,InitialLocation,Location,ProfessionalAspect,Source,SuperYes124100.010352.62
from8(5)SimplePosition:OriginPlaceOfObserverLocationYes15100.01252.33
in1(1)SimplePositionThingEnclosingLocation,ThemeYes114100.042292.38
in2(1a)SimplePosition:DestinationThingEnteredLocationYes4100.01483.94
in back of1(1)BehindThingInterveningYes0100.00.19
in front of1(1)BeforeThingInFrontLocationYes96100.0106.13
in front of2(1a)OrientationThingFacingLocationYes90100.099.50
in front of3(2)PresencePartyPresentYes61100.067.44
in line with2(n)OrientationPlaceAlignedToYes14100.08.40
in sight of1(1)OrientationThingVisibleYes17100.03.15
in the midst of2(n)PervasivenessThingSurroundingLocationYes48100.08.90
inside1(1)SimplePositionThingEnclosingLocationYes134100.0229.37
inside2(1a)SimplePositionTargetReceptacleLocationYes21100.035.95
inside3(1b)SimplePositionPartyEnclosingYes18100.030.81
inside4(1c)OrientationPartyBorderingLocationYes4100.06.85
inside of1(1)SimplePositionThingEnclosingLocationYes17100.03.15
into1(1)SimplePosition:DestinationThingEnclosingDestinationYes114100.03001.74
into2(2)SimplePosition:DestinationImpacteeDestinationYes8100.0210.65
into3(3)SimplePosition:DestinationDestinationDestinationYes43100.01132.24
into4(4)SimplePositionDirectionDirectionYes10100.0263.31
mid1(1)PervasivenessThingSurroundingYes0100.00.19
midst1(1)PervasivenessThingSurroundingYes0100.00.19
near1(1)BesideThingAdjacentLocationYes221100.01179.31
near to1(1)BesideThingAdjacentYes138100.036.45
neath1(1)BelowThingAboveLocationYes2100.00.37
neath2(1a)BelowThingBlanketingLocationYes0100.00.19
neath3(2)BelowThingAboveLocationYes0100.00.19
next door to1(1)BesideThingAdjacentYes69100.012.80
next to1(1)BesideThingAdjacentLocationYes0100.00.19
nigh1(1)BesideThingAdjacentYes0100.00.19
o\'8(4)OrientationPlaceRelativeLocationYes0100.00.00
o\'er1(1)AboveThingSurmountedLocationYes5100.00.02
o\'er11(4)PathThingTraversed1DTrajectoryYes11100.00.05
o\'er12(4a)PathThingDescendedFrom1DTrajectoryYes1100.00.00
o\'er13(4b)OrientationPlacePassedLocationYes2100.00.01
o\'er15(6)-1SimplePositionResistantSurfaceDestinationYes1100.00.00
o\'er2(1a)AboveThingCo'eredLocationYes2100.00.01
o\'er3(1b)AboveThingSurveyedLocation,1DTrajectoryYes0100.00.00
o\'er4(2)AboveThingSurmountedLocationYes1100.00.00
of8(4)OrientationPlaceRelativeLocationYes3100.0741.97
off1(1)PathPlaceAbandonedInitialLocationYes29100.0139.69
off2(2)OrientationPlaceRelativeInitialLocation,LocationYes15100.072.25
off3(2a)OrientationPlaceCoastalLocationYes34100.0163.77
off4(3)SimplePosition:OriginPlaceOfOriginDirection,InitialLocation,SourceYes48100.0231.21
off8(n)SimplePosition:OriginPlaceOfOriginYes4100.019.27
on1(1)SimplePositionSurfaceSupportingLocationYes26100.02151.54
on15(7a)SimplePosition:ConveyanceConveyanceLocationYes2100.0165.50
on16(7b)SimplePosition:ConveyanceConveyanceLocationYes2100.0165.50
on2(1a)SimplePositionPlaceSurroundingLocationYes69100.05709.84
on3(1b)SimplePositionSurfaceResistingYes2100.0165.50
on4(1c)SimplePositionBodyPartInstrument,Location,MannerYes6100.0496.51
on5(1d)SimplePosition:DestinationSurfaceSupportingLocationYes3100.0248.25
on7(2)SimplePositionGroundLocationYes1100.082.75
on a level with1(1)EqualHeightEqualedYes2100.00.37
on top of1(1)AboveThingSurmountedLocationYes81100.037.86
on top of2(1a)AboveThingCoveredYes60100.028.05
on top of5(4)AboveThingCrowdedLocationYes8100.03.74
onto1(1)SimplePosition:DestinationSurfaceSupportingDestinationYes118100.0155.06
onto2(2)SimplePosition:ConveyanceConveyanceDestinationYes13100.017.08
onto7(n)SimplePosition:DestinationTargetOfMotionYes9100.011.83
onto9(n)SimplePositionPlaceSurroundingYes4100.05.26
opposite1(1)OrientationPlaceRelativeYes210100.047.06
out of6(5)SimplePosition:OriginDirectionalInitialLocation,StartState,1DTrajectoryYes75100.0951.75
out of7(6)SimplePosition:OriginThingAdjacentLocationYes6100.076.14
outboard of1(1)BesideThingAdjacentYes3100.00.56
outside1(1)BesideBoundaryMarkerLocationYes126100.0583.46
outside3(1b)BesideBoundaryMarkerLocationYes0100.04.63
outside of1(1)BesideBoundaryMarkerLocationYes70100.016.78
outta6(5)SimplePosition:OriginDirectionalYes0100.00.19
outta7(6)SimplePosition:OriginThingAdjacentYes0100.00.19
outwith1(1)BesideBoundaryMarkerYes16100.02.97
outwith3(1b)BesideBoundaryMarkerYes0100.00.19
over1(1)AboveThingSurmountedLocationYes13100.0167.90
over11(4)PathThingTraversed1DTrajectoryYes44100.0568.28
over12(4a)PathThingDescendedFrom1DTrajectoryYes3100.038.75
over13(4b)OrientationPlacePassedLocationYes5100.064.58
over15(6)-1SimplePositionResistantSurfaceDestinationYes3100.038.75
over2(1a)AboveThingCoveredLocationYes22100.0284.14
over3(1b)AboveThingSurveyedLocation,1DTrajectoryYes5100.064.58
over4(2)AboveThingSurmountedLocationYes10100.0129.15
over against1(1)BesideBackstopYes2100.00.37
overtop1(1)AboveThingCoveredYes0100.00.19
past1(1)BesideThingPassedLocation,1DTrajectoryYes50100.036.36
past2(1a)PathThingPassed1DTrajectoryYes91100.066.17
per3(3)OrientationDeviceInHeraldryYes0100.04.93
round1(1)SimplePositionThingSurroundedLocationYes47100.078.92
round3(2)SimplePositionThingEncircledLocation,1DTrajectoryYes34100.057.09
round4(2a)SimplePositionFleshEncircled1DTrajectoryYes6100.010.07
round5(3)PathGroundOfRoute1DTrajectoryYes18100.030.22
round6(3a)PathObstaclePassedLocation,1DTrajectoryYes17100.028.54
round8(4)PervasivenessPlaceSaturated2DAreaYes68100.0114.18
round about2(n)SimplePositionThingSurroundedYes18100.03.34
sans4(3)BesideBoundaryMarkerYes0100.00.19
short of4(n)SimplePosition:DestinationDestinationYes14100.011.84
this side of4(n)BesidePlaceRelativeYes11100.02.04
thro\'1(1)PathThingTransited1DTrajectoryYes2100.00.03
thro\'10(3)PervasivenessThingInspected1DTrajectoryYes1100.00.02
thro\'10(3)-1PervasivenessThingPermeated3DMediumYes4100.00.07
thro\'12(5)-1BesideHandleDestinaton,1DTrajectoryYes0100.00.02
thro\'2(1a)PathThingPenetrated1DTrajectoryYes2100.00.03
thro\'3(1b)PervasivenessThingTransited3DMediumYes0100.00.02
thro\'4(1c)PathInterveningObstacle1DTrajectoryYes0100.00.02
thro\'5(1d)PathChannelTransitedLocationYes0100.00.02
thro\'5(1d)-1PathRouteCourseYes0100.00.02
thro\'6(1e)PathDistanceTransitedExtentYes0100.00.02
through1(1)PathThingTransited1DTrajectoryYes39100.0485.72
through10(3)PervasivenessThingInspected1DTrajectoryYes25100.0311.36
through10(3)-1PervasivenessThingPermeated3DMediumYes6100.074.73
through12(5)-1BesideHandle1DTrajectoryYes2100.024.91
through2(1a)PathThingPenetrated1DTrajectoryYes21100.0261.54
through3(1b)PervasivenessThingTransited3DMediumYes3100.037.36
through4(1c)PathInterveningObstacle1DTrajectoryYes10100.0124.54
through5(1d)PathChannelTransitedLocationYes2100.024.91
through5(1d)-1PathRouteCourseYes41100.0510.63
through6(1e)PathDistanceTransitedExtentYes2100.024.91
throughout1(1)PervasivenessThingPermeatedLocation,2DAreaYes109100.0578.82
thru1(1)PathThingTransited1DTrajectoryYes0100.00.19
thru10(3)PervasivenessThingInspected1DTrajectoryYes0100.00.19
thru10(3)-1PervasivenessThingPermeated3DMediumYes0100.00.19
thru12(5)-1BesideHandleDestinaton,1DTrajectoryYes0100.00.19
thru2(1a)PathThingPenetrated1DTrajectoryYes0100.00.19
thru3(1b)PervasivenessThingTransited3DMediumYes0100.00.19
thru4(1c)PathInterveningObstacle1DTrajectoryYes0100.00.19
thru5(1d)PathChannelTransitedLocationYes0100.00.19
thru5(1d)-1PathRouteCourseYes0100.00.19
thru6(1e)PathDistanceTransitedExtentYes0100.00.19
thwart1(1)OrientationPlaceRelativeYes0100.00.19
to1(1)SimplePosition:DestinationTargetOfMotionDestinationYes91100.011883.46
to13(5)SimplePositionAttachmentPointCo-ThemeYes17100.02219.99
to2(1a)OrientationPlaceRelativeLocationYes7100.0914.11
toward1(1)SimplePositionTargetOfMotionDirectionYes48100.027.92
towards1(1)SimplePosition:DestinationTargetOfMotionDirectionYes58100.0572.74
under1(1)BelowThingAboveLocationYes13100.0294.29
under2(1a)BelowThingAboveLocationYes10100.0226.38
under3(2)BelowThingAboveLocationYes2100.045.28
under4(2a)BehindThingInterveningLocationYes1100.022.64
underneath1(1)BelowThingAboveYes158100.029.31
underneath3(2a)BelowThingCoveringYes10100.01.85
unto3(n)SimplePosition:DestinationTargetOfMotionYes22100.04.08
up1(1)AboveThingScaled1DTrajectoryYes24100.0125.63
up2(1a)PathWatercourseCourse,LocationYes2100.010.47
up3(2)PathRoadwayCourse,LocationYes6100.031.41
up4(3)SimplePosition:DestinationMotionGoalLocationYes2100.010.47
up against1(1)BesideBackstopYes52100.012.77
up and down2(1a)PathPathYes74100.028.17
up and down3(2)PervasivenessThingPermeatedYes53100.020.17
up before1(1)PresenceAuthorityFacingYes6100.01.11
up to1(1)SimplePosition:DestinationDistanceLimitDestinationYes21100.0177.57
upon1(1)SimplePositionSurfaceSupportingLocationYes4100.045.33
upon15(7a)SimplePosition:ConveyanceConveyanceLocationYes0100.011.33
upon16(7b)SimplePosition:ConveyanceConveyanceDestinationYes0100.011.33
upon2(1a)SimplePositionPlaceSurroundingLocationYes11100.0124.65
upon3(1b)SimplePositionSurfaceResistingYes3100.034.00
upon4(1c)SimplePositionBodyPartOtherYes1100.011.33
upon5(1d)SimplePosition:DestinationSurfaceSupportingDestinationYes1100.011.33
upon7(2)SimplePositionGroundLocationYes2100.022.66
upside1(1)SimplePositionResistantSurfaceYes0100.00.19
via1(1)PathRouteCourseYes73100.0120.30
with15(9)OrientationPlaceRelative3DMediumYes1100.079.05
within1(1)SimplePositionEntityEnclosingLocation,SupersetYes24100.0510.45
within2(1a)SimplePositionAreaBoundedLocationYes34100.0723.13
within5(2)OrientationDistanceLimitLocationYes4100.085.07
within sight of1(1)OrientationThingVisibleYes32100.05.94
without4(3)BesideBoundaryMarkerLocationYes0100.016.84
Total      125449.23