Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Print publication year: 1975
  • Online publication date: January 2010

12 - Prepositions


Types of prepositions

OFr prepositions express relations of time and place, also cause, means, manner and purpose, etc. They can b.

simple: a, de, en, o, vers,

compound, sometimes still written in two words: envers, desus, parmi or par mi,

adverbs (occasionally nouns or adjectives) used as prepositions:

soz, enz, lez (side, beside), lonc (long, along),

or prepositional phrases: en aval de (below).

Note: Oḍ, and even aḍ, the early forms of o and a, are still found in the early twelfth century, especially before vowels.


The need for extra stress or greater precision encouraged compounds and prepositional phrases:

Atot le moine. (F.9.381)

With / Together with the monk.

Et lor dites de par moi··· (Gr.8)

And tell them from me on my behalf.

This tendency led to several forms with the same or similar meanings, e.g. a, tresqu' a entresqu'a(to, up to, right up to).

Extended functions

Many OFr words are etymologically both adverb and preposition (e.g. sus, sor) and retain their double function. In other cases adverbs and adverbial compounds were soon used as prepositions also (e.g. the compounds desus, devant, deriere). Thus by the twelfth century all elements in a reinforced series like soz, desoz, par desoz (under, below) can function as either prepositions or adverbs.

While most prepositions are restricted in their use, several have extended functions in OFr, particularly the common prepositions a, de, par, por and en. Their chief uses are indicated below.

Examples in §§164–9 have mainly been drawn from the Charroi de Nimes, Yvain and the Prise d' Orange.