Monday, 17 December 2012

Prepositional Phrase: Functions

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 359, 361):
The prepositional phrase serves as Adjunct in the modal structure of the clause.  Like the adverbial group, it can serve as circumstantial Adjunct or, less commonly, as interpersonal Adjunct; and like the conjunction group, it can serve as conjunctive Adjunct.  In addition, it can be rank-shifted to serve as Postmodifier in a nominal group or adverbial group. …

The exception is prepositional phrases with of, which normally only occur as Postmodifier; the reason is that they are not typical prepositional phrases, because in most of its contexts of use of is functioning not as a minor Process/Predicator but rather as a structure marker in the nominal group (cf to as a structure marker in the verbal group).  Hence of phrases occur as clause elements only in two cases: (1) as circumstance of Matter, for example Of George Washington it is said that he never told a lie, (2) as one of a cluster of circumstances expressing a sense of ‘source’, all ultimately derived from abstract locative ‘from’: died/was cured of cancer, accused/convicted/acquitted of murder and so on.