parrots, pet stores, parties and prepositions / by Anthony Gibbins

When someone asks me what a Preposition is I’m far more likely to respond with a list; oh, you know, those words like to and from and with and about and after. There is a Preposition on today’s page within the Prepositional Phrase propter psittacum on account of or by reason of or because of the parrot. Today we will look at Prepositions, so let’s begin with a definition. Here is the Cambridge English Dictionary. It is, of course, discussing Prepositions in English, but what it says holds true for Latin also;

a word that is used before a noun, a noun phrase, or a pronoun, connecting it to another word. In the sentences "We jumped in the lake", and "She drove slowly down the track", "in" and "down" are prepositions.

What is interesting about Latin Prepositions, is that each one of them must be followed by a Noun, a Noun phrase, or a Pronoun in its favourite Case. Take propter psittacum for example. The Nominative of parrot is psittacus, but the Preposition propter demands to be followed by the Accusative Case; hence propter psittacum on account of the parrot. The Preposition cum with, on the other hand, demands to be followed by the Ablative Case, hence cum psittaco with the parrot. Each Preposition demands to be followed by either the Accusative Case or the Ablative Case. There are, however, just a small handful of Super-Prepositions (not a real term) that can be followed by either, with useful consequence.

What follows are some Prepositional Phrases. Each Phrase contains a Preposition followed by psittacus or zoopolium or convivium. psittacum and zoopolium and convivium are in the Accusative Case, psittaco and zoopolio and convivio are in the Ablative.

Prepositions Followed by the Accusative Case: ad zoopolium to the pet store adversus zoopolium opposite the pet store adversus psittacum against the parrot ante zoopolium in front of the pet store ante convivium before the party apud zoopolium close by the pet store apud psittacum at the home of the parrot or in the writings of the parrot circum zoopolium around the pet store cis zoopolium on this side of the pet store contra zoopolium opposite the pet store contra psittacum against the parrot extra zoopolium outside of the pet store inter psittacos between the parrots infra zoopolium below the pet store  intra zoopolium within the pet store iuxta zoopolium next to the pet store ob zoopolium before the pet store ob psittacum because of the parrot penes psittacum in the power of the parrot per zoopolium through the pet store per psittacos throughout the parrots per psittacum by means of a parrot post zoopolium behind the pet store post convivium after the party praeter zoopolium beyond the pet store prope psittacum near the parrot propter zoopolium close to the pet store propter convivium on account of the party secundum convivium immediately following the party secundum viam following the street supra zoopolium above the pet store trans zoopolium on the far side of the pet store ultra zoopolium beyond the pet store

Prepositions Followed by the Ablative Case: a zoopolio* from the pet store cum psittaco with the parrot coram psittico in the presence of the parrot de zoopolio down from the pet store de convivio concerning the party e zoopolio* out of the pet store prae psittaco in front of the parrot pro zoopolio in front of the pet store pro psittaco in place of a parrot sine psittaco without a parrot : Note: a is ab and e is ex before a vowel; ab aqua from the water ex aqua out of the water

Super-Prepositions (not a real term) that can be followed by the Accusative or Ablative Case: in zoopolium into the pet store or onto the pet store in zoopolio in the pet store or on the pet store sub zoopolium up to the pet store sub convivium just before the party sub zoopolio under the pet store

Miranda, because of the parrot, is now certain that she has found the woman whom she is looking for. ‘It is now time,’ she says to Jessica and Marcellus, ‘to tell me everything.’