HomepageChapter 11 - The Prepositions

 Inventory on the prepositions : 

  1. Prepositions do not exist as such in the Somali language.
  2. Nevertheless, there are two equivalents of "prepositions" as we understand them in English :
    • Locative and relational preverbal particles
    • Possessive phrases

 The locative and relational preverbal particles : 

Somali preverbal locative and relational particles often play a role similar to that of English "prepositions".
There are 4 locative and 4 relational preverbal particles in Somali.

Table locative and relational preverbal particles

Locative particlesRelationship particles
úto, forsóoin the direction of the speaker
in, into, on, at, with, by means ofsíiaway from the speaker
from, away from, out ofwadatogether, towards each other (with plural subjects/objects)
in company withkalaapart, away from each other, separately

Examples :

= He went out of the room

= Put it into the suitcase
albabkasooxidh !
= Close the door !

 Possessive phrases : 

Other preposition-like functions are fulfilled by verbs or nouns.
One construction particularly worthy of note involves locative or temporal nouns with a possessive, effectively used as postpositions :

Table of possessive phrases or "Postpositions"

Root noun English Masculine Feminine English
ag vicinity agtiisa agteeda near
dabo back dabadiisa dabadeeda behind
after (space or time)
dar reason dartiisa darteeda because of
debed exterior debeddiisa debeddeeda outside
dhex center dhexdiisa dhexdeeda in the middle of
dhex center   dhexdooda between, in the middle
(always plural)
dul (top) surface dushiisa dusheeda on top of
gees side geestiisa geesteeda beside
gudo interior gudihiisa gudeheeda inside
within (space or time)
hoos bottom hoostiisa hoosteeda beneath
hor front hortiisa horteeda in front of
before (space or time)

Examples :

miiska agtiisa= near the table[the table his vicinity]
dekedda agteeda= near the harbour[the harbour her vicinity]
aqalka dabadiisa= behind the house[the house his behind]
kulaylka dartiisa= because of the heat[the heat his reason]
magalada debeddeeda= outside the town[the town her exterior]
jid dhexdiisa= in the middle of a road[a road his center]
awrta dhexdooda= in the middle of the camels[the camels their center]
miiska dushiisa= on top of the table[the table his surface]
albabka geestiisa= beside the door[the door his side]
daarta gudeheeda= inside the building[the building her interior]
markabka gudihiisa= inside the ship[the ship his interior]
sariirta hoosteeda= under the bed[the bed her bottom]
habeennimada horteeda= before nightfall[the night her front]

Remark :

As strange as this construction with a postposition may look, it is similar to the usual possessive construction in Somali, and in turn surprising similar to the possessive case construction in English !

Cali walaashiis= Ali's sister[Ali his sister]

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