21.3. diante de, à frente de, em frente, antes de, ante

Most of the prepositions that describes relationships in space can be used as well in a metaphorical sense, what is in general not the case with prepositions that describes relationships in time. It is to assume that prepositons that describe relationships in space are the mother of all prepositions. It is to assume that our from tree to tree swinging forebears had a good idea about relationships in space, otherwise they would have risked their lives, but no clue of temporal relationships, apart from day at night. Temporal relationships are only needed to describe more complex processes and this author assumes that our forebears were simply to stupid for that. Temporal relationships require are greater degree of abstraction, because we don't have these relationships in front of our eyes.

However the human brain sees a similarity between a spatial relationship "The book is under the table" and metaphorical relationship "Under his rule, Brazil's economy has grown" although there is none. (Even if most people find that this metaphorical use so "logic" that they believe that there is a similarity. '"Under his rule" means simply that someone can impose its will, but if a book lies under the table, the table is not able to exert any power on the book. Under the book has nothing to do with under his rule.) In this case a temporal preposition would be more logical: "During his rule....". (This is actually one of the view temporal prepositions that can be used in a metaphorical sense. For "during his lifetime" we have no alternatives.)

Most of the metaphorical relationships steems from relationships in space

The book lies on the table. <=> The failure of policies based on this assumption is proved every day.
The trousers are under the table. <=> Under his rule arts florished.
Behind the gaden fence the world doesn't end. <=> Let's review the arguments behind this assertion.
He stand in front of the door. <=> In front of this problem, a solution is required.


Since the relationships in space don't resemble the metaphorical relationship we don't expect that it works in any language the same way. In almost all languages for instance "The lamp hangs upon the desk" and "People talk ~upon this issue". But not in English. In English people talk about an issue. Very often humain brains all over the world establishes the same strange analogies, but since these analogies are in most cases arbirtrary from a logical point of view, we can't expect that these analogies are made the same way everywhere.

There are some curious things about the analogies made by human brains in the use of prepostions. Sometimes, although very seldon, the human brain establishes an analogy between a relationship in time and a relationship in space. In german for instance some is in front of the door and someone comes as well ~ in front of six o' clock instead of before six o' clock. This author however guesses that any English spoker would understand that someone who is ~ after the door is behind the door and not in front of the door. The interesting thing is, that in any language there is a disctinction between the relationship in space and the relationship in time, but many English learners, as the author of these lines. confuse behind and after. That means that they don't translate directly from their respective mothter tongues, but establish a relationship and actually it is not more absurde to say ~ in front of six o' clock instead before six o' clock than saying under his rule and therefore humain brains establish this relationship automatically and only the prepostions that describe relationships in space tend to be used in other contexts. It is to assume that between for instance was a preposition that describes a relationship in space and only afterwards it has been used to describe a relationship in time. (Between the chair and the table. <=> Between 3 and 6 o'clock.)

All that and other things we will discuss in this chapter makes the use of preposition a difficult and underestimated problem. Grammar bocks often focus on things like the tenses, the infinite verbforms, syntactical problems and so on. Things that are determined by grammar rules, in other worlds things that can be described with some basic rules. Prepositions, conjunctions and adverb however are a lexical problem in other words, things that have to be learned by heart or require practice.




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