Tema 21- La localización en el espacio. Lugar, dirección y distancia

Tema 21- La localización en el espacio. Lugar, dirección y distancia

Adjuncts of space:

When a verb f.i: be, live, put takes an obligatory predication adjunct this is almost all cases concerned with position or direction.

– She lives in a cottage

– He put it on(to) the table

When a spatial predication adjunct is optional, it usually expresses direction (including goal and source)

– The children were running very fast from the school towards the park

1. The distance relation is given 2 kinds of expression, specific and general

a) Specific distance: is expressed solely by predication adjuncts and these have only noun-phrase realization

– He climbed a further thousand feet before dusk

b) General distance can also be realized by noun phrases

– We hurried a few miles and then rested

But prepositional phrases can also be used ad in this form the adjuncts can be predicational or sentential

– We hurried for a few miles and then rested

2. Position and source adjuncts readily assume a sentential role, especially when there is a direction or goal adjunct in the same clause.

– People move to a new house quite frequently in America

– Mary went to Brussels from London

To a limited extent position adjuncts can be realized by noun phrases

– Which side of the street does she live? She lives this side.

3. Direction adjuncts involving a general reference item (especially way) are often realized as noun phrases introduced by which, this, that.

– He went that way

Which direction did she run?


Apart from the use of noun phrases for some predication adjuncts of distance, space adjuncts are most commonly in the form of prepositional phrases, thus conveying with a given noun phrase (the road, the house, the room) the special discriminations (at, on, in).

Where the lexical form of the head noun is unimportant but where the location needs to be specified in detail, a postmodified noun phrase can be used:

– I saw Joan at the office/place /where/at which her father works

But a head noun that is of little semantic weight (as place) would more usually be omitted and the whole adjunct expressed with only the where-clause.

– I saw Joan where her father works

Position in relation to animates (especially persons) may be expressed by prepositional phrases introduced by with.

– Where is Mildred? She is (staying) with her brother

In addition to the spatial pro-forms here and there, there are numerous adverbs realizing spatial relations. Some can be used prepositionally as well as adverbially. Most can be used for both position and direction: above, across, alongside, around, ashore, away, back, behind, below, beyond, down, far, home, in, inshore, inside, near, off, on, opposite, out, south, there, through, under, up, within.

Some items denote direction but not position: after, along, aside, before, downward(s), forward(s), inward(s), left, outward(s), over, past, right, round, upward(s)

Cooccurrence restrictions:

Direction adjuncts of both goal and source can normally be used only with verbs used dynamically allow a directional meaning.

– He came from America last week

– He jumped out of the cage

Some direction adjuncts can be also be used with the copular verb be when they have a resultative meaning, indicating the state of having reached the goal

– They are past by now (have gone past)

– I´ve never been to London (never visited London)

On the other hand, position and distance adjuncts can be used with all verbs, including those in stative use.

– I heard about it in London (stative)

– They are staying in a nearby hotel (dynamic)

Position adjuncts can also be used with the copular verb be.

– It is much warmer inland

Indeed, they frequently occur as the obligatory element with be clauses, though not with copular verbs other than be.

– The meeting will be upstairs.

The progressive is of course excluded

– * Charles is being in the next room.

Spatial adjuncts can equally be obligatory adjuncts with verbs other than be.

– We don´t live here

Position and direction adjuncts in the same clause:

Position and direction (or goal) adjuncts can cooccur with the position adjunct normally following the other adjunct

– The children are running around upstairs

direction position


Two adjuncts ccan be coordinated if they are of the same grammatical function and semantic class, f.i: position adjuncts:

– We can wait for you here or in the car

– Soldiers were on guard inside and outside

Equally with direction adjunct:

– They went up the hill and towards the station

But a position and a direction or goal adjunct normally cannot be coordinated

– The baby was crawling upstairs and into his parents´ bedroom.

Positions of space adjuncts:

Irrespective of grammatical function or semantic goal, space adjuncts are found in end position:

1) Position

– I´ll meet you downstairs

– We´re eating in the kitchen

– You´ll find the sugar where the coffee is

2) Source

– We moved the furniture out of the room

3) Direction

– I´ll go downstairs

4) Goal

– She hasn´t yet moved to Liverpool

5) Distance

– Try to fly the whole distance

Position adjuncts, particularly prepositional phrases often appear in initial position to create a scene-setting or to avoid ambiguity

– In the nursery, the children were playing happily but noisily

The expressions here…be and there….be with a personal pronoun as subject and the verb in the present simple or (with there) past, are commonly used to draw attention to the presence of somebody or something

– There she is, by the phone box

Source adjuncts can also be in initial position and occasionally in medial

From Liverpool, you can´t often get international flights

– You could, from Manchester, get a plane to Amsterdam

Speakers sometimes put position adjuncts in medial position

– Life is everywhere so frustrating

Occasionally some direction adjuncts occupy initial position. They have a dramatic impact, normally the verb is in the simple present or simple past

– Away he goes

If the subject is not a personal pronoun but a noun phrase, subject-verb inversion is normal when a predication adjunct is in initial position.

– Below is a restaurant

Syntactic features of space adjuncts:

As predication adjuncts, direction and goal adverbials are normally the focus of negation in a negative sentence. They therefore do not precede clause negation

– Across the park he walked, hand in hand with his elder daughter

– *Across the park he didn´t walk

On the other hand, as sentence adjuncts, those of position can readily precede clausal negation

– Indoors, we could not hear ourselves speak

Most space adjuncts, including prepositional phrases, accept intensification

– He went right into the house

A type of clause comparison can be achieved by the use of further/farther….than

– They are further ahead than we are

Position adjuncts in relation to subject and object:

Position adjuncts normally indicate the place of the referent of the subject and (if there is one) of the object, usually the place is the same for both referents.

– I met John on a bus (this implies that John and I were on the bus)

But sometimes the places can be different

– I saw John on a bus (this implies that John was on the bus but it does not imply equally that I was on the bus)

With certain verbs, the reference of an adjunct in end position is always to the place of the object and normally that will differ from the place of the subject. These verbs denote owing or placing

– I keep my car in a garage

With certain verbs, position adjuncts are resultative and are like object-related adjuncts

– I expect a leak (O) in that pipe (A) (A leak may occur in that pipe)

If any adjunct is intended to be sentential, it has to be in initial position for the distinction to be clear

– At my house, they are planning a meeting

Direction adjuncts as commands:

Certain direction adjuncts can be used as brusque or very familiar directives, with an implied verb of motion

– Out(side)!

– In(side)!

– To bed!

– Out with it!

Space prepositions:

1. Position and direction:

Between the notions of directional movement and static position there is a cause-and-effect relation which applies equally to the positive prepositions and the negative ones.

Where places are regarded as pints on a route or as institution to which ones is attached, we need dimension-type 0

– Does the train stop at Lincoln?

But where that same place is thought of in terms of residence, dimension type 2 or 3 is appropriate.

– I´ ve never lived Lincoln

If the referent is considered as a surface, dimension type 1 or 2 is appropriate, while if it is considered as enclosing dimension type 2 or 3 is needed.

– I was swimming on lake Windermere

– There was a child asleep in the bed.

2. Relative position

Rather than absolute position, many prepositions indicate the position of something relative to the position of something else

– The police station is opposite my house

Some prepositions form antonymic pairs:


Similar to above and below are over and under respectively, though the latter tend to mean “directly above” and “directly below”. Over means covering, on the other side of, across, from one side to the other

– There is a bridge over the river

Under can indicate contact:

– She put the letter under the pillow

And with below there is usually a space between the 2 surfaces

– They live below us.

Similar to in front of and behind are before and after respectively, though the latter tend to imply relative precedence rather than physical position

Like under are the less common beneath (somewhat formal) and underneath.

With on top of we combine the sense of above with abutment. Abutment is also normally implied with by, beside and with

– She left the keys by/beside/with her purse.

By contrast close to and near (to) exclude actual contact. These prepositions are unique in admitting comparative inflection

– Please move this desk close(r) to and near(er) (to) the wall.

With between we positionally relate 2 objects or groups of objects, whereas with among and amid(st) (more formal) we are dealing with a more general plurality

– There must be space to walk between the chair and the wall.

– I left the letter among my birthday cards.

The converse of between and among is expressed by around.

– There were trees around the house.

3. Passage:

The notion combines position and motion, disregarding destination

– I love walking through woods in spring.

Other prepositions commonly used for passage are by, over, under, across and past


Passage and direction are frequently related to conceptual axes, especially the vertical and horizontal.

With (a)round the relation is to a real or fancied point such as a corner or a centre.

Special relations are often expressed by orientation to the speaker:

Vertical axis up down horizontal axis along across