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  15.1 prepositions - Introduction

Few grammars dedicate a lot of time to prepositions, adverbs or conjunctions although they are a real problem because their use differs from one language to another and very often their use is arbitrary. Before we go into the details, we are going to discuss the function of the prepositions, conjunctions and adverbs.

Prepositions describe a logical relationship or a relationship in space, time between two nouns.

relationship in space: The car is parked in front of the house.

relationship in time: We want to take a shower before dinner.

logical relationship: He is rich but nevertheless unhappy.

Conjunctions describe a relationship between two actions / events

relationship in time: Before he left, he told me that he would be back at six o' clock.

logical relationship: In order to be let alone he gives them the key.

Until now nothing too complicated. Nevertheless there are some problems because the same word can be a preposition, a conjunction or an adverb.

a) preposition: After dinner I will go to the cinema. / Dopo cena vado al cinema.
b) conjunction: After he had told me the truth, I was very angry. / Dopo che mi aveva detto la verità, sono stato arrabiato.
c) adverb: I do it later. / Lo faccio doppo.

As you can see in this example, dopo can be used as a preposition, a conjunction and an adverb in Italian but only as a preposition and conjunction in English. That's something we are going to see very often in the next chapters. It is possible that one language has one word for the conjunction, preposition and the adverb and the other language makes a difference.

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