Adpositions can be organized into subclasses according to various criteria. These can be based on directly observable properties (such as the adposition's form or its position in the sentence) or on less visible properties (such as the adposition's meaning or function in the context at hand). [edit]Simple vs complex Simple adpositions consist of a single word, while complex adpositions consist of a group of words that act as one unit. Some examples of complex prepositions in English are: in spite of, with respect to, except for, by dint of, next to The boundary between simple and complex adpositions is not clear-cut and for the most part arbitrary. Many simple adpositions are derived from complex forms (e.g. with + in > within, by + side > beside) through grammaticalization. This change takes time, and during the transitional stages the adposition acts in some ways like a single word, and in other ways like a multi-word unit. For example, current German orthographic conventions recognize the indeterminate status of the following adpositions, allowing two spellings:[9] anstelle / an Stelle ("instead of"), aufgrund / auf Grund ("because of"), mithilfe / mit Hilfe ("thanks to"), zugunsten / zu Gunsten ("in favor of"), zuungunsten / zu Ungunsten ("to the disadvantage of"), zulasten / zu Lasten ("at the expense of") The boundary between complex adpositions and free combinations of words is also a fuzzy one. For English, this involves structures of the form "preposition + (article) + noun + preposition". Many sequences in English, such as in front of, that are traditionally regarded as prepositional phrases are not so regarded by linguists.[10] The following characteristics are good indications that a given combination is "frozen" enough to be considered a complex preposition in English: It contains a word that cannot be used in any other context: by dint of, in lieu of. The first preposition cannot be replaced: with a view to but not *for/without a view to It is impossible to insert an article, or to use a different article: on *an/*the account of, for the/*a sake of The range of possible adjectives is very limited: in great favor of, but not *in helpful favor of The number of the noun cannot be changed: by virtue/*virtues of It is impossible to use a possessive determiner: in spite of him, not *in his spite Complex prepositions develop through the grammaticalization of commonly used free combinations. This is an ongoing process that introduces new prepositions into English.[11] [edit]Classification by position The position of an adposition with respect to its complement allows the following subclasses to be defined: A preposition precedes its complement to form a prepositional phrase. German: auf dem Tisch, French: sur la table, Polish: na stole ("on the table") A postposition follows its complement to form a postpositional phrase. Chinese: ??? zhuozi shang (lit. "table on"), Finnish: (minun) kanssani (lit. "my with"), Turkish: benimle (or "benim ile"), Latin: mecum (both lit. "me with") The two terms are more commonly used than the general adposition. Whether a language has primarily prepositions or postpositions is seen as an important aspect of its typological classification, correlated with many other properties of the language. It is usually straightforward to establish whether an adposition precedes or follows its complement. In some cases, the complement may not appear in a typical position. For example, in preposition stranding constructions, the complement appears before the preposition: {How much money} did you say the guy wanted to sell us the car for? She's going to the Bahamas? {Whom} with?

In other cases, the complement of the adposition is absent: I'm going to the park. Do you want to come with? French: Il fait trop froid, je ne suis pas habillee pour. ("It's too cold, I'm not dressed for [the situation].") The adpositions in the examples are generally still considered prepositions because when they form a phrase with the complement (in more ordinary constructions), they must appear first. Some adpositions can appear on either side of their complement; these can be called ambipositions (Reindl 2001, Libert 2006): He slept {through the whole night}/{the whole night through}. German: {meiner Meinung nach}/{nach meiner Meinung} ("in my opinion") An ambiposition entlang (along). It can be put before or after the noun related to it (but with different noun cases attached to it). die Stra?e entlang entlang der Stra?e along the road Another adposition surrounds its complement, called a circumposition: A circumposition has two parts, which surround the complement to form a circumpositional phrase. English: from now on Dutch: naar het einde toe ("towards the end", lit. "to the end to") Mandarin: ? ?? ? cong bingxiang li ("from the inside of the refrigerator", lit. "from refrigerator inside") French: a un detail pres ("except for one detail", lit. "at one detail near") Swedish: for tre timmar sedan ("three hours ago", lit. "for three hours since") "Circumposition" can be a useful descriptive term, though most circumpositional phrases can be broken down into a more hierarchical structure, or given a different analysis altogether. For example, the Mandarin example above could be analyzed as a prepositional phrase headed by cong ("from"), taking the postpositional phrase bingxiang li ("refrigerator inside") as its complement. Alternatively, the cong may be analyzed as not a preposition at all (see the section below regarding coverbs). An inposition is an adposition between constituents of a complex complement.[12] Ambiposition is sometimes used for an adposition that can function as either a preposition or a postposition.[13] Melis (2003) proposes the descriptive term interposition for adpositions in the structures such as the following: word for word, page upon page, (French) coup sur coup (one after another, repeatedly), (Russian) друг с другом (with each other) An interposition is not an adposition which appears inside its complement as the two nouns do not form a single phrase (there is no *word word or *page page). Examples of actually interposed adpositions can be found in Latin (e.g. summa cum laude, lit. "highest with praise"). But they are always related to a more basic prepositional structure.