Old English/Prepositions

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Old English has many prepositions, and like German, they require certain cases of noun to come after them to complete their meaning. Old English has 4 cases other than nominative (subject) case which can be objects of prepositions. The genitive, dative, instrumental, and accusative cases can all be objects of prepositions. Prepositions are used to make a sentence more descriptive.

Common Prepositions[edit | edit source]

Mid[edit | edit source]

  • This preposition means 'with', as in:
    • I went with him - ic ēode mid him.
    • I traveled along with her - ic fōr mid hire.

[edit | edit source]

  • This means 'to,' as in:
    • I spoke to him - ic spræc tō him.
    • I go to the door - ic gā tō þǣre dura.

Þurh[edit | edit source]

  • This means 'through,' as in:
    • I go through the gate - ic gā þurh þæt geat.

This preposition governs the accusative case.

Now, there are a great deal of prepositions in Old English, so going through them by case governed will be helpful.

Genitive Prepositions[edit | edit source]

Genitive prepositions that only take the genitive case are rare, and there is only one true such preposition, andlang.

andlang, andlanges[edit | edit source]

  1. alongside, along, on length, by the side of
    1. I go alongside the street - ic gā andlang(es) þǣre strǣte.
    2. I go by the side of the way - ic gā andlang(es) þæs ƿeges.

There are several prepositions which do take genitive objects in addition to other cases:

  • betƿēonan (dative/accusative too)
  • innan (dative/accusative too) - within, from within
  • þurh (mainly accusative)

Dative Prepositions[edit | edit source]

Tōgeagnes[edit | edit source]

  1. where there is motion towards the object governed by the word
    1. without the idea of hostility, towards, so as to meet
    2. with idea of hostility, against, to meet
  2. where there is motion of the object governed by the word
    1. without idea of opposition, in the way of, to meet the approach of, in readiness for, against the coming of
    2. with the idea of opposition, against, for the purpose of resisting
  3. marking the object towards or against which an action is directed
    1. of reciprocal action, again, in return
  4. marking time, on the approach of, towards
  5. marking comparison or contrast

Instrumental Prepositions[edit | edit source]

Accusative Prepositions[edit | edit source]

There are several pure accusative prepositions, among the most common are geond, geondan, , þurh, underneoðan, ƿiþgeondan, ymb, ymbūtan. Some of these prepositions can take other cases, but only rarely. There are also some less common prepositions, which will be listed below with the others.

geond[edit | edit source]

  1. throughout, during

geondan[edit | edit source]

  1. beyond

[edit | edit source]

  1. to, up to, as far as

þurh[edit | edit source]

  1. through, during

þurhūt[edit | edit source]

  1. right through, throughout
    1. hē ēode þurhūt Ēoforƿīc - he went throughout York

underneoðan[edit | edit source]

  1. underneath, below

ƿiþgeondan[edit | edit source]

  1. beyond

ymb[edit | edit source]

  1. around, about, at

ymbūtan[edit | edit source]

  1. around, about

Dative/Accusative Prepositions[edit | edit source]

ābūtan[edit | edit source]

  1. on, about, around, around about, on the outside

(variant of onbūtan)

in[edit | edit source]

innan[edit | edit source]

  1. dative - in
    1. rest in, within - innan healle within a hall
    2. motion in, within - hé éode innan þǽm mynstre he went within the monastery
    3. time within the limits of a period, in; híe ƿendon innan þǽre middanƿintres tíde they went within the limits of midwinter time
  2. accusative - into

onbūtan[edit | edit source]

  1. about
    1. place
    2. time
      1. about All Saint's Day or later onbūtan Ealra Hālgena dæg and gīet lator

Dative/Instrumental Prepositions[edit | edit source]

Mid[edit | edit source]

Dative[edit | edit source]

  1. with, in conjunction with, in company with, together with

Instrumental[edit | edit source]

  1. through, by means of

Reference[edit | edit source]