Prepositions are words that tell us the position of something.
They are often short little words, eg. in, on, to, up, down, around, over, under.
We have met them and used them right from the first week - "The dog is in the street.", "The dog is on the table."
The Cambridge book uses them every week, but does not really explain how they are used.
Wheelock introduces them briefly on page 10, but does not deal with them again until Chapter 37
There are a few basic general rules which it is useful to know, and which will be a great help in reading and translating Latin.
If "motion towards" something is involved, the Accusative Case is generally used.
This is true for several other languages also, eg. Greek and German
The dog goes into (enters) the house. - "canis in vīllam intrat."
The dog goes to the harbor. - "canis ad portum venit."
If "motion away from" something is involved, the Ablative Case is generally used (unless it refers to the name of a town or small island - see Wheelock, page 262)
The dog goes out of the house - "canis ē vīllā exit."
The dog goes away from the house - "canis ab vīllā venit."
If no motion is involved - dealing with stationary situations - the Ablative case is generally used.
The dog is in the house - "canis est in vīllā."
When learning prepositions, one should also learn what Case they "govern" - what case the Noun will be put in.
Sometimes a Preposition can be translated in more than none way, depending on the Case which is used
eg. "in" with Accusative means "into".
"in" with Ablative means "in" or "inside".
|Prepositions which take the Accusative
||Prepositions which take the Ablative
ad - towards, to; according to
adversus - toward, against
ante - before, in front of
apud - at, near, around, among, with; at house of, in works of
circā, circum, circiter - around, near
cis, citrā - on this side of, short of
clam - unbeknown, unbeknownst
contrā - against, opposite
ergā - towards
extrā - outside of
infrā - below
inter - between, among
intrā - within
iuxtā - beside, next to, according to
ob - in front of, because of
penes - in the possession of
per - through, over, by, with help of
post - behind, after
praeter - beyond, outside of
prope - near
propter - because of (near)
secundum - according to
suprā - beyond
trāns - over, beyond
ultrā - beyond
usque - up to, continually
versus - toward
ā, ab, abs - from (separation), by (personal agent)
absque - without
cōram - in front of, around, in the presence of
cum - with (accompaniment, not instrument)
dē - from; about, of, concerning
ē, ex - out of, from (the center)
prae - in front of
prō - before, in front of; for; according to; as, like
sine - without
tenus - as far as, up to
|Prepositions which take both the Accusative and Ablative
in - into (acc.), in (abl.)
sub - under
subter - beneath, below
super - over, above
ā or ab is generally used for "by a person or animal"
To say "by a thing" use the ablative alone without a preposition
ad - "Epistola ad Romanos" = "The Epistle to the Romans"
adversus gives us "adversary"
ante gives us "a.m." (ante meridian) - before noon, and "antediluvian" - dating back before Noah's Flood.
circā, circum, circiter gives us "circle"
cis, citrā gives us "cisalpine" - on this side of the alps, as opposed to "transalpine" - beyond, on the other side of the alps.
cis and trans are also used in chemistry, to distinguish between stereoisomers.
cum means "with" in the sense of accompanying someone or something, eg. Marcus went with Brutus.
For "with" in the instrumental sense, eg. Marcus eats with a spoon, use the Ablative alone without a preposition
ergā is "towards" - don't confuse "ergā" with "ergō" - therefore
extrā gives us "extra-curricula activities"
infrā gives us "infra-red" - radiation with lower wavelengths than red light
iuxtā gives us "juxtaposition"
ob gives us "obvious" something which is "ob via" - in your path
per gives us "percolate", "perforate"
post gives us "p.m." (post meriden) - after noon.
prope gives us "propinquity"
secundum is "according to" - "evangelium secundum Markum" = "The Gospel according to Mark"
Beware - "secundus -a -um" is an adjective meaning "second". The rest of the sentences should make clear which word it is.
ultrā gives us "ultra-violet" - radiation which is beyond violet light
A Rhyme to help you Remember
Put the ablative with dē,
Cum and cōram, ab and ē,
Sine, tenus, prō and prae.
In and sub go either way.
Copyright © 1999 Shirley J. Rollinson, all Rights Reserved
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Portales, NM 88130
Last Updated: July 26, 2010