Inflected preposition

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In linguistics, an inflected preposition is a type of word that occurs in some languages, that corresponds to the combination of a preposition and a personal pronoun. For instance, the Welsh word iddo (/ɪðɔ/) is an inflected form of the preposition i meaning "to/for him"; it would not be grammatically correct to say *i fe.

Terminology and analysis

There are many different names for inflected prepositions, including conjugated preposition, pronominal preposition, prepositional pronoun, and suffixed pronoun.[1] (But note that the term prepositional pronoun also has a different sense, for which see Prepositional pronoun.)

Historically, inflected prepositions can develop from the contraction of a preposition with a personal pronoun; however, they are commonly reanalysed as inflected words by native speakers and by traditional grammar.

Language change over time can obscure the similarity between the conjugated preposition and the preposition-pronoun combination. For example, in Scottish Gaelic "with" is le /lɛ/ and "him" is e /ɛ/, but "with him" is leis /leʃ/.


Insular Celtic

All Insular Celtic languages have inflected prepositions; these languages include Scottish Gaelic, Irish, Manx, Welsh, Cornish and Breton.


The following table shows the inflected forms of the preposition i (to/for). The optional pronouns that follow the inflected forms are given in parentheses.

Singular Plural
First Person imi, ifi ini, inni
Second Person iti ichi, ichwi
Third Person Masculine iddo (ef) iddyn (nhw), iddynt (hwy)
Feminine iddi (hi)

The sentence Mae hi wedi ei roi iddo ef (she has given it to him) required the inflected form of i, mae hi wedi ei roi i ef is not grammatically correct.

The following table gives the inflected colloquial forms of the preposition o (of/from). The optional pronouns that follow the inflected forms are given in parentheses.

Singular Plural
First Person ohonof (i) ohonon (ni)
Second Person ohonot (ti) ohonoch (chi)
Third Person Masculine ohono (ef) ohonyn (nhw)
Feminine ohoni (hi)


Inflected prepositions are found in many Semitic languages, including Hebrew,[2] Arabic, Assyrian Neo-Aramaic and Amharic.

For example, the Arabic preposition على (/ʕalaː) on inflects as علَيَّ (/ʕalajːa/) on me, علَيْكَ) (/ʕalajka/) on you (m.s.), علَيْهِ (/ʕalajhi/) on him, etc.

Other languages

Languages that do not have full paradigms of inflected prepositions may nonetheless allow contraction of prepositions and pronouns to a more limited extent.

In formal registers of Polish, a handful of common prepositions allow amalgamated forms with third-person pronouns: na niego ("on him/it") → nań.[3] However, these contracted forms are very archaic and rarely heard in daily speech.

In many Iberian Romance languages, such as Spanish and Portuguese, the preposition con or com ("with") has special forms incorporating certain pronouns (depending on the language). For example, in Spanish and Asturian conmigo means "with me". Historically, this developed from the Latin use of cum ("with") after a pronoun, as in mecum ("with me").

Inflected prepositions occur in the Ruhr dialect of German.[4]

See also


  1. ^ Stalmaszczyk, Piotr (2007). "Prepositional Possessive Constructions in Celtic Languages and Celtic Englishes". The Celtic Languages in Contact: Papers from the Workshop within the Framework of the XIII International Conference of Celtic Studies, Bonn, 26–27 July 2007. 
  2. ^ Glinert, Lewis. Modern Hebrew: An Essential Grammar (2nd ed.). Routledge UK. pp. 41–44. ISBN 0-415-10190-5. 
  3. ^ Swan, Oscar E. (2002). A Grammar of Contemporary Polish. Bloomington, IN: Slavica. ISBN 0-89357-296-9. 
  4. ^ Bariş Kabak and René Schiering (2006). "The Phonology and Morphology of Function Word Contractions in German". The Journal of Comparative Germanic Linguistics. 9: 53. doi:10.1007/s10828-005-4533-8. 

External links

  • Examples of Irish prepositional pronouns
  • Explanation of Scottish prepositional pronouns
  • Prepositions with suffixes in Biblical Hebrew
  • Prepositions with pronominal suffixes in Biblical Hebrew
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