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Most place prepositions have an instance for each of the informal preposition categories - I'll refer to them as active and passive, since I'm not familiar with the actual terms. I'm using active here to refer to prepositions which signify movement, and passive to refer to those which signify a state of staying. For example: the active into and the passive in, the active up and the passive above/upon.


I am going into the house.

He is in the house.

It is obvious from these examples that the two forms of the "in" preposition have different meanings - one active and one passive.

You can do the same for every place preposition, though some, like between, are the same word when either active or passive. So there is a between meaning something is between, and a between meaning something is going between.


I am going between the two big trees.

He is between the house and the stable.

It is obvious that in both cases the preposition remains the same, though one is active and one passive.

Basically, to find the two forms, you pick a place preposition (say into), determine whether it refers to going or just to being ("He is going into the house" - sounds right; "He is into the house" - sounds terrible; so "into" is active), then search for the form you didn't pick (passive, so what sounds right with "He is [prep] the house"? - in - "He is in the house" sounds right, so in is the passive form of into), and there you have your two forms (into - active; in - passive).

What I'm trying to figure out is where along fits in. Is it active, and if so, what is a passive counterpart?

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gotcha. redundant comments deleted – FumbleFingers Jun 28 '11 at 4:26
up vote 2 down vote accepted

I fear your categorization is based on unsound foundations, but let's just look at along:

The signs were on buildings along Main Street.


He traveled along roads that were long and painted purple.


Assuming that I correctly understand how you're categorizing prepositions, then it's a preposition that can be in either state.

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Duh! Thanks! What's wrong with me? Oh well... – Daniel Jun 28 '11 at 4:14
@waiwai In curiosity: why are my foundations unsound? – Daniel Jun 28 '11 at 4:19
@drm65 I'm not certain that categorization is incorrect, but it's just a gut feeling I have. – waiwai933 Jun 28 '11 at 4:30
So, assuming this active/passive distinction is meaningful in the first place, along works the same as between? – FumbleFingers Jun 28 '11 at 4:31
Your categorisation is fine, but the terms you have chosen are unconventional and will not be understood unless you explain them. The distinction is usually expressed as one of "position" or "motion", and is well known: those European languages which still have noun cases usually use the accusative for motion and another case for position. – Colin Fine Jun 28 '11 at 13:46

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