Finding the #Write #Words? No. 14: English Prepositional Idioms

Continuing the description of books on words in post 1 list, which you’ll find here.

Book 14 English Prepositional Idioms:

Paperback, 562 pages. It was published by MacMillan Press Ltd in 1967 (yes, really!); my version is the reprint edition from 1978 and I bought it from a second-hand bookseller for £2.50, probably around 1984. You can obtain a used copy for around £37.00. It seems there is no current version of this one, so, if you’d like a copy, you may have to search the used book shops.

The book is in two sections, ‘The Prepositions and Their Uses’ and ‘Prepositional Idioms’.

I bought it because I’m fascinated by our wonderful, expressive language. However, I have to admit I’ve rarely consulted this particular book, basically because I imagine my understanding of idioms in English is reasonably good!

Opening randomly, at pages 300/301, I am in the larger section that looks at the idioms. Page 300 comes part way through the definition for ‘Hunger’. The first complete entry on the page, however, is for ‘Hurry’.

HURRY. When hurry is a verb, the purpose or object of hurrying is expressed by an infinitive (hurry to catch the bus) or by an adjunct introduced by for (hurry for the bus, for the train, etc.).

When it is a noun, the infinitive is used to express the purpose or object (“Why all this hurry to get there first?”); the for adjunct indicates that in respect of which the hurry is or is not necessary, or the “destination” of the hurry.’

Page 301 ends with an entry for Ignorance, which may be rather apposite for this post.

IGNORANCE. Ignorance of whatever is not known: e.g. ignorance of the law, ignorance of the language of the country. Similarly ignorant of.

            In ignorance (of). (1) Ignorant (of).

Some of the members demanded to know why they had been kept in ignorance of the true facts until they reached the present critical stage.

   (2)    While one is ignorant (of).

            I made that statement in ignorance of the true facts of the case.’

Those two examples of the content illustrate well the rather dry academic nature of the book. It is probably only of real interest to those studying language in an academic sense rather than those of us who actually use it, which may explain why the book hasn’t been reprinted since 1978. I suspect few, if any, of the visitors to this site would be interested in owning a copy, but I leave it here for information.

English is a complex language, made up of words from many countries, and borrows rules of grammar, punctuation and even style from those originating lands, which makes it interestingly familiar to learners but also frequently frustratingly baffling to the same students.

Those learning the English Language will find help on pronunciation here. And you’ll find a friendly group on Facebook through this link.

Post 2 is here, post 3, post 4, post 5, post 6, post 7, post 8, post 9, post 10, post 11, post 12, and post 13 here.