20.8.1 ejercicio: Connections with prepositions

From a didactical point of view prepositions are one of the most confusing issues in the learning of languages. There are almost no rules allowing to deduce which preposition has to be used. In some contexts the basic meaning has a corresponding preposition in the other languages, but that doesn't mean that this preposition can be used in any context where it is used in the foreign language. In general we have only intersections, but we can't translate a preposition always with the same preposition in the foreign language irrespective of the concrete context.

The basic meaning of de for instance is from and in some contexts we can indeed translate with from.

de = from
Desça já desta árvore!
Come down from this tree!
De ontem para hoje, tudo mudou.
From yesterday to today everything changed.

However mostly this is not the case. Depending on the context the preposition de has to be translated in different ways.

de = with
Comeu de garfo e faca.
He eats with fork and knife.
de = about
Fala de suas férias.
He speaks about his holidays.
no preposition at all
Nunca se esqueça de mim.
Never forget me.
de = aus
Vem do Brasil.
He came from Brasil.

The clearer the relationship described, what is mostly the case in spatial relationships, the more we have a 1 to 1 relationship. To the prepositions exists exactly one preposition in the other languages. The more the relationships are vague, the more we have n to n relationships. The preposition on in a sentences like "The painting hangs on the wall" for instance is vague. We can say as well that it is in the wall, or upon the wall or at the wall. On in this context is arbitrary and therefore we don't expext a 1 to 1 relationship.

The next problem is that prepositions can have completely different syntactical functions. The basic function of a preposition is to decribe spatial, temporal and some other relationships between two objects, the book is on the table, between an action and an object, I go to the garden and between parts of sentences, after having done it.... (However not between the main clause and the subordinate clause, because this is done by conjunctions. A subordinate clause has always a finite verb.)

However prepositions can modify as well the semantic value of the verb. In this case they don't specify any relationship. They change the meaning of the verb.

I believe him.
I believe in him.

The preposition changes in this case the meaning of the verb. If someone believes someone he believes that a single assertion made by this person is true. However that doesn't mean that he trust him in general. Who believes in someone trust this person in general, believe that he is able to do something or that his behaviour can be predicted.

This becomes even more obvious if we take an example where there is no object at all.

A friend of mine stopped by yesterday.

In this case the preposition by changes completely the meaning of the verb to stop. We can't either say that by is an adverb, because it doesn't specify the way the action is performed. It changes completely the meaning. Furthermore an adverb doesn't have a syntactical function.We can leave it out and the sentence will still be grammatically corrrect, although the meaning may have changed. (Crying he told the whole story. <=> He told the whole story.) However in this case
we get "A friend of mine stopped yesterday". Although the sentence is still grammatically correct, this author would say it is a preposition anyway, because the meaning is completely different.

Therefore the syntactical function of a pronoun is very often not clear, it can be a pronominal adverb as well, when it refers something, nor the semantic value. One can ask if it is really a certain type of word or if it is several type of words.

The whole thing is therefore a little bit obscure and confusing. There is no set of rules allowing to deduce, if we abstract from very simple cases, the preposition to be used in any context. There use is in a wide range arbitrary. Grammar books advise to learn by heart all the verbs that connects with a preposition or change their meaning depending on the preposition. ( to look after, to look for, to look at). That's a brilliant idea, however the reader of these line would have got this idea alone and that is more easy to say than to do. The best thing to do, more realistic, is to be sensitized for this phenomen and to pay therefore more attention to it. If this is the case, one learns the prepositions in the different contexts by reading and hearing.That's why we produced audio books and it is recommended to read and hear them.

Those who speak Spanish, French or Italian should take the preposition that would fit in Spanish, French or Italian. Every preposition has a basic meaning and for this basic meaning there is a corresponding preposition. Although there is no guarantee that this works, the success rate should be higher than by taking the English preposition.

In the following sentences there are prepositions who describe temporal and spatial relationships between objects, parts of (shorten) sentences, that change the semantic value of a verb und prepositions that connects an object to a verb.

Choose the right option. In all these sentences the basic meaning of the Portuguese preposition is completely different than the meaning of the corresponding prepostion. The basic meaning of com for instance is with, that's what we found in any dictionnary. However com is used in contexts that has nothing to do with this basic meaning. We have explicitly chosen examples where the preposition with the corresponding basic meaning can't be used. In some cases, escrever a caneta / escrever com caneta, there are several correct options. However we offer only one.

This is a question easy to answer.
É uma questão fácil resolver.

He came by car.
Chegou carro.

Are you ready to do this work?
Está disposto fazer o trabalho?

Believe me, she is not trustworthy.
Acredita mim, ele não é de confiança.


Right now I don't have any intention to marry.
Não penso me casar agora.

We are determined to continue with our work.
Estamos decididos prosseguir o nosso trabalho.

This is only an allergic reaction to antibiotica.
É apenas uma reação alérgica antibióticos.

I don't remember her.
Não me lembro .

I still have some things to do.
Eu tenho coisas fazer agora.

I have the impression that she is afraid of me.
Eu tenho a impressão que ele tem medo mim.

He believes in what he does.
Acredita na causa luta.

I am determined to correct that.
E estou decidido corrigir isso.

That was determined from the beginning.
Estava decidido antemão.

We make a mistake we will have to pay for later.
Cometemos um erro agora, e pagamos ele mais tarde.

For her it is much more complicated. Für sie ist das sehr viel schwieriger.
ela é muito mais difícil.

You know enough to be well aware that this is not going to last.
Sei o suficiente saber que não dura.
1) fácil a fazer works as well
2) In Spanish and French it would be "chegou em carro". That is possible in Portuguese as well.
3) disposto de fazer works as well
4) - no alternative
5) - no alternative
6) - no alternative
7) - no alternative
8) - no alternative
9) The construction is passive, "things that have to be done". Coisas para fazer or Coisas de fazer exists as well, but in this case coisas is direct object of fazer and not subject.
10) - no alternative
11) -no alternative
12) - no alternative
13) de antemão, from the very beginning, is an idiomatic expression (actually beforehand, but this literal translation has a different meaning). It is an adverb and there is no preposition at all. completely different than case 12.
14) pagar para isso is possible, but that would mean to pay for something and not because of something. Hier we have a cause and not goal.
15) Com ela works as well, but has a different meaning.

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