I know I said that next we’d talk about declensions, but it came up in the comments, this point about Latin not having all of the prepositions English has, and I decided the commenter was on to something and we should get this conversation out of the way first.
Today, we’ll discuss the preposition of and how it’s connected to the genitive case.
Does Latin Have Prepositions?
Well, yes, actually. Yes it does. Remember, prepositions help define relationships between one thing and another. They explain the location of something in time or in space. So I am standing beside the table or on the table or next to the table or none of these because I’ve crouched down and now I’m under the table. I did all of this before breakfast.
Latin contains many of the same prepositions as we use in English. If you are inside, you are intra. If you are outside, you are extra. If you are under, you are sub. If you are before, you are ante. If you are with, you are cum, but if you’re without, you’re sine.
But these spatial and temporal prepositions are not the prepositions we use most often. The ones we are most likely to use are: of, for, to, by, with, and from. These special prepositions explain different relationships than most prepositions — they explain ownership, origination, means, or purpose (among other things).
This short list — of, for, to, by, with, and from — contains prepositions that are implied in the cases.
If you don’t recall what cases are, you need to review Lesson 1.
A Preposition Inside the Genitive Case
Thinking about this in English can help us.
Iin English, we can show possession in two ways:
Both of these are correct, and they are basically the same thing to us: the gate belongs to the house. In Latin, we would simply say porta casae (porta means “gate” and casae is the possessive — genitive — form of “house”). Do you see what I mean when I say that a preposition can be wrapped up inside of a case? The preposition of is in the genitive case. In Latin, we don’t need a separate preposition because that is what the case means. When we are translating from Latin to English, we will use the apostrophe-s or the preposition of depending on how it sounds best in the English.
There are two more cases that contain implied prepositions. We’ll talk about them sometime soon.
Read More in this Series:
Lesson 1: Understanding the Five Basic Cases
Lesson 2: What Does Declining Mean?
Lesson 3: A Preposition Inside the Genitive Case ←you are here
Lesson 4: A Preposition Inside the Dative Case
Lesson 5: How to Determine the Gender of a 3rd Declension Noun (A Flow Chart)
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