Prepositions and postpositions

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Prepositions and postpositions

Prepositions and postpositions are words that precede or follow noun phrases (e.g. nouns or pronouns), and form adverbials with them. Prepositions come before noun phrases, and postpositions come after them. An example of a preposition is gaskkal, "between", and an example of a postposition is haga, "without". There are many words that can function both as prepositions and postpositions, consider the word birra, 'about' or "around". The phrase that the preposition or postposition stands next to is in the genitive form.

  • Son lea čoahkkimis 'gaskkal' golmma ja viđa.
  • (She will be in a meeting between three and five.)
  • Ale mana olggos gahpira 'haga'! (Don't go out without a hat!)
  • Son bargá 'birra' jándora. (She works around the clock).
  • Human du 'birra'. (I'm talking about you).

Prepositions and postpositions, more often than not, are used for indicating temporal or spatial relations. They can also have other more abstract meanings. Some pre-/postpositions might have both temporal-spatial meanings and abstract ones, while others only have one meaning. The postposition lusa 'to' only has a spatial meaning, whereas maŋŋil 'after' only has a temporal meaning. The word mielde has both a temporal and a spatial meaning. When it is used to express space, the word is readily used to mean 'along'. When "mielde" is used in temporal expression, it generally means 'during'. In abstract use, however, "mielde" might be translated as 'according to'.

  • Mun dolvon reaga viesu 'lusa'. (I brought the sleigh up to the house.)
  • Áhkku boahtá 'maŋŋil' juovllaid. (Grandma is coming after Christmas.)
  • Elle váccii bálgá 'mielde' johkagáddái.
  • (Elle went along the path to the edge of the river.)
  • Dáinna fertet otná beaivvi 'mielde' geargat.
  • (You have to be finished with this today.)
  • Biera ságaid 'mielde' leaba Ánte-guovttos náitaleame.
  • (According to Per, Ánte and his fiancee have gotten married.)

Spatial meaning

Spatial meaning can be divided into stationary or locative (at a place), source (away from something), goal (toward something) and path (along a path). Some prepositions and postpositions have distinct forms for each meaning. The locative/source meaning is generally expressed with the local form, the goal meaning is expressed with the illative form, and the path is expressed with the genitive form. One example of this can be observed in the postpositions gurrii (ill. 'up next to'), guoras (loc. 'next to') and guora (gen. 'along next to').

  • Son guđii biilla viesu 'gurrii'.
  • (He left the car next to the house.)
  • Mánná čohkká eatni 'guoras'. (The child is sitting next to his mother.)
  • Viesu 'guora' manai bálggis. (There is a path that goes along next to the house.)

Other postpositions only have one form that can have several meanings. In such cases you have to consider the whole sentence before you know what meaning to assign. You can look at the verb to see what meaning it requires, for example. Make note of the adpostions gasku, 'in the middle of', and vuostá, 'against'.

  • Mánná velledii 'gasku' láhtti. (The child lay down in the middle of the floor.)
  • Mánná veallá 'gasku' láhtti. (The child is lying in the middle of the floor.)
  • Son ceggii sabehiid seainni 'vuostá'.
  • (He stood his skis up against the wall.)
  • Sabehat ceaggájit seainni 'vuostá'. (The skis are are standing up against the wall.)

There are also postpositions that only have one form and one meaning. Examples of this type can be observed in meattá, 'past' and buohta, 'next to/opposite'. They only have one spatial meaning.

  • Son vujii min viesu 'meattá'. (He drove past our house.)
  • Sii ásse min 'buohta' máŋga jagi. (They lived next to us for several years.)

Below is an overview of prepositions and postpositions with several forms. Most of the forms are only postpositions. The adpositions bealde / beallái / beale and geahčen / geahčái / geaže can stand as prepositions with attributes. Infrequent forms are givein in parentheses.

An overview of postpositions with several forms
Goal Locative/Source Path English
ala/nala alde/nalde onto, on, off of
báldii bálddas báldda next to
beallái bealde beale next to
duohkái duohken duogi/duoge behind, from behind
fárrui fárus along, along with
gaskii gaskkas gaskka among, amidst
geahčái geahčen geaže to the end of, at the end of, at
gurrii guoras guora next to
lusa luhtte to, at
maŋŋái maŋis (maŋil) after, behind
ovdii ovddas ovddal in front of, ahead of, before
rádjái rájes/rájis ráje up to, until
sisa siste inside, out of
vuollái vuolde vuole/vuoli under, beneath

Example sentences:

  • Girji lea beavddi 'alde/nalde'. (The book is on the table.)
  • Bija girjji beavddi 'ala/nala'. (Put the book on the table.)

  • Lágideaddjit leat munnje ordnen gohttensaji jur festiválabáikki 'báldii'.
  • (The organizers have given me a place to camp right next to where the festival will be held.)
  • Lávddi 'bálddas' ceaggá stuora geađgi.
  • (There is a big rock sticking out next to the stage.)
  • Máze skuvlla 'báldda' golggai ája.
  • (There was a spring running past the Masi school.)

  • Dan maŋŋá son fárrii ovttas bearrašiinnis rájá nuppe 'beallái'. (After that he/she moved with his/her family 'to' the other 'side' of the border.)
  • Norgga dutkit eai beassan dutkat Ruošša 'bealde' 1997:s.
  • (Norwegian researchers were not allowed to carry out research 'on' the Russian 'side' (of the border) in 1997.)
  • Don 'beale' ceakkus váriid ihtet ruoná guolbanat.
  • ('On' the far 'side' of the steep fells, green plains come into view.)

  • Uhcastáloš doapmalii čiehkádit balssa 'duohkái'.
  • Little Troll quickly went and hid 'behind' a mound.)
  • Duottar leabbá duoddara 'duohken'.
  • Beyond one plain lies another.
  • Son njágai muoraid 'duogi'.
  • (He crept 'along behind' the trees.)

  • Mii leimmet dávjá áhči 'fárus' meahcis.
  • (We oftentimes went 'along with' our father to the fells.)
  • Vuolgge min 'fárrui'! (Come 'along with' us!)

  • Čohkket munno 'gaskii'. (Sit down 'between' us.)
  • Min 'gaskkas' leat ollu rievvárat.
  • (There are a lot of thieves 'in' our 'midst'.)
  • Son johtá ollu Álttá ja Máze 'gaskka'.
  • (She travels a lot 'between' Alta and Masi.)

  • Mii girdit nuppe 'geahčái' máilmmi.
  • (We are flying 'to' the other 'end' of the world.)
  • Son lea min 'geahčen' fitnan juohke geasi.
  • (She has come to visit us every summer.)
  • Iešjávrri meaddil manaimet nuortta 'geaže'.
  • (We went by Iešjávri along the east end.)

  • Go iđit šattai, de manai bárdni gonagasa 'lusa'.
  • (When morning came, the boy went before the king.)
  • Busse vuoddjá suohkanviesu 'luhtte' dii. 08.30.
  • (The bus leaves the council building at 8:30 a.m.)

  • Son viehkalii mánáid 'maŋŋái'.
  • (He set off 'after' the children at a run.)
  • Son viegai mánáid 'maŋis'. (He ran / was running 'after' the children.)
  • Dasto johten muhtin «liegga biekka» 'maŋil' Báhcavutnii.
  • (After that I travelled 'before' a "warm wind" to Båtsfjord.)

  • Ja go leaska manai speadjala 'ovdii', de oinnii ahte lei nuorasnuvvan.
  • (And when the widow stood 'in front of' the mirror, she saw she had grown younger.)
  • Mánát dollet gieđaid beljiid 'ovddas'.
  • (The children held their hands over their ears.)
  • Rieban boahtá sudno 'ovddal' ja ánuha láibbi.
  • (A fox comes 'up to' them and begs for bread.)

  • Gollešaldi galgá ollit mu dálu 'rájes' gitta gonagasdálu 'rádjái'.
  • (The golden bridge has to reach 'all the way from' my house 'to' the kings palace.)
  • Su nubbi juolgi lei čuhppojuvvon juolgeruohttasa 'ráje'.
  • (One of his legs had been amputated at the ankle.)

  • Son bidjalii reivve girjji 'sisa'. (She put the letter 'into' the book.)
  • Girjji 'siste' gávdnui reive. (A letter was found 'in' the book.)

  • Bussá lea beavddi 'vuolde'. (The cat is lying 'under' the table.)
  • Bussá manai beavddi 'vuollái'. (The cat went 'under' the table.)
  • Son suonjai loavdaga 'vuoli' olggos. (He crawled out 'under' the tent cloth.)

The postpositions bealde / beallái / beale and geahčen / geahčái / geaže are combined with other words to form new prepositions and postpositions, e.g. bajábealde, 'on the upper side, from above', vuolábealde, 'on the lower side, from underneath', maŋábealde, 'behind, from behind', ovddageahčen, 'in front of', duogábealde, 'behinid, from behind'. Thes can also combine with points of the compass, e.g. lulábealde, 'on the south side of, from south of', lulágeahčen, 'at the south end of, from the south end of'.

  • Min viessu lea luotta 'bajábealde'.
  • (Our house is on the upper side of the road.)
  • Eat biso 'bajágeahčen' tabealla dán jagi.
  • (We won't be 'in the upper half of' the table this year.)

  • Mii rahčat 'vuolágeahčen' tabealla dán jagi.
  • (We are struggling 'in the lower part' of the talbe this year.)
  • Mii oakkuimet goržži 'vuolábealde'.
  • (We went fishing 'at the lower end of' the rapids.)

  • Lean čállán iežan telefonnummára girjji 'duogábeallái'.
  • (I have written my telephone number on the back of the book.)
  • Norgga rájiid 'siskkobealde' galgá čuovvut Norgga lágaid.
  • (Inside the borders of Norway, one should adhere to Norwegian law.)

  • Sii ceggejedje lávuid 'davábeallái' márkana.
  • (They set up their lavvus on the north of the village.)
  • Sii ceggejedje lávuid márkana 'davágeahčai'.
  • (They set up their lavvus at the north end of the village.)

  • Moala 'ovddabealde' čuožžu moallafákta.
  • (There is a goal keeper standing 'in front of' the goal.)
  • Eanas gálvu lei fatnasa 'ovddageahčen'.
  • (Most of the goods are 'at the front end of' the boat.)

Other prepositions and postpositions with spatial meanings are badjel 'over', birra 'around', bokte 'at', čađa 'through', guovdu 'in the middle of', lahka 'near', meaddel 'past/by', miehtá 'throughout', njeaiga/njeaigga 'into', rastá 'across'.

  • Rohttejin ránu oaivvi 'badjel' vai oaččun nahkáriid.
  • (I pulled the blanket 'over' my head so I could get some sleep.)
  • Mánát vihke viesu 'birra'. (The children ran around the house.)
  • Easka Máze 'bokte' dovden ahte liegganišgođii biila.
  • (It wasn't until we got to Masi that I could feel the car was getting warm.)
  • Vázzen gili 'čađa'. (I walked 'through' the village.)
  • Mánná lei nohkkan 'guovdu' láhtti.
  • (The child had fallen asleep 'in the middle of' floor.)
  • Son orui rámbuvrraid 'lahka'. (He lived 'near' the shops.)
  • Sii vihke min 'meaddel'. (The ran 'past' us.)
  • Son lea dovddus 'miehtá' Norgga. (She is well-know 'throughout' Norway.)
  • Olmmái vujii muora 'njeaiga/njeaigga'. (The man drove 'into' a tree.)
  • Ii lean dilli gállit 'rastá' joga. (There was no time to wad across the river.)

Temporal meaning

Typical prepositions and postpositions with temporal meaning are for example ovdal and maŋŋil/maŋŋá. When they are used as prepositions, they mean 'before' and 'after'. As postpositions, however, they mean 'just before' and 'just after'. This is not spatial meaning. Other prepositions and postpositions that only have temporal meanings are bále, 'while' and gaskan, 'in the middle of'.

  • Eat dáidde 'ovdal' juovllaid gal fárret.
  • (We probably won't be moving 'before' Christmas.)
  • Sii eai astta fárret juovllaid 'ovdal'.
  • (The don't have time to move just before Christmas.)
  • Háliidan diehtit movt sudnuin manai dáhpáhusa 'maŋŋel/maŋŋá'.
  • (I would like to know how things went for them 'just after' the event.)
  • Eadneolmmoš muitala morraša birra logi jagi 'maŋŋel/maŋŋá' dáhpáhusa.
  • (A mother tells of the mournful event ten years 'after' it happened.)
  • Mun berren geargat čuovgga 'bále' muorragurpmiin dáluid lusa.
  • (I ought to get to the houses with a load of wood 'while' it is still light out.)
  • Ferten gávppis finihit dan 'bále' go lea mánnábiigá.
  • (I have to go to the store 'while' I have a baby sitter.)
  • Son jugaskii 'gaskan' bargguid.
  • (He started drinking right in the middle things when there was still work to be done.)

Many of the prepositions and postpositions with spatial meaning can also be used to express temporal senses. Here are some examples:

  • Báhppa lea 'badjel' čieža jagi orron Leavnnjas.
  • (The minister has been living in Lakselv 'for over' seven years.)
  • Heandarat orru mearragáttis 'birra' jagi.
  • (Heandarat lives on the coast all year 'round'.)
  • Áiggiid 'čađa' rievddai servodat bivdoservodagas otná ruhtaservodahkii.
  • (With time society changed from hunting oriented to one with a monetary base.)
  • Mus lea oahpahus 'gaskkal' ovtta ja golmma.
  • (I have instruction 'between' one and three.)
  • Mánná oađđá 'gasku' beaivvi. (The child sleeps 'in the middle of' the day.)

  • Vahku 'geahčái' galggan gápmagiid goarrut.
  • (Before the week is out, I have to be finished sewing the broques.)
  • Vahku 'geahčen' galggan gápmagiid goarrut.
  • (In a week I have to sew the brogues.)
  • Goarrugoađán fas vahku 'geažes'.
  • (I'll start sewing again in a week.)

  • Uhcimus mánáid atne 'miehtá' dálvvi assás biktasiid siste.
  • (The smallest children are dressed in thick clothing throughout the winter.)
  • Girjerájus rahppojuvvo diibmu ovccis ja lea rabas gitta čieža 'rádjái' eahkes.
  • (The library opens at nine o'clock and is open till seven in the evening.)
  • Joavku čuojahii ovttas 1978 'rájes' gitta 1983 'rádjái'.
  • (The group performed together 'all the way from' 1978 'till' 1983.)

Other meanings

Many typical propositions and postpositions have neither temporal nor spatial meanings. These are haga 'without', and the combinatory postpositions dáfus, ektui, hárrái, which can be translated as 'in relation to/compared with/concerning'. Similarly, there are dihte, geažil, várás, váste, which are readily translated as 'due to/for the sake of/for', and vuođul, which means 'on the basis of'.

  • Dán áigge ii birge ruđa 'haga' šat.
  • (Nowadays you can't get along 'without' money anymore.)
  • Skuvllas lea sámegiela 'dáfus' hirbmat stuora ovddasvástádus.
  • (The school bears a great responsibility when it comes to the Saami language.)
  • Muhto nuppe 'dáfus' váilot sámegielat oahpaheaddjit.
  • (But on the other hand, there is a shortage of Saami speaking teachers.)
  • Ovddit Sámedikki 'ektui' lea dálá Sámedikkis buoret sámegielgeavaheapmi.
  • (Compared with the Sameting of former times, the Sameting of today has a better command of the Saami language.)
  • Min bellodagas lea čielga politihkalaš oaidnu sámi rivttiid 'hárrái'.
  • (Our party has a clear political view concerning Saami rights.)

  • Huksenbargguid 'dihte' son lei šaddan bargat guhkes beivviid.
  • (Due to construction work, he/she has had to work long hours.)
  • Sus leat ollu golut, ovdamearkka 'dihte' viessoloatna ja biilaloatna.
  • (He/she has plenty of expenses, there is a house loan and a car loan, for instance.)
  • Son logai iežas šaddan eallinagi gillát duon dáhpáhusa 'geažil'.
  • (He said he had suffered all his life 'because of' that event.)
  • Son lei ferten váldit loana maiddái biilla oastima 'várás'.
  • (He had been compelled to take out a loan to buy himself a car, as well.)
  • Olbmot ráhkkanedje geasi 'várás'.
  • (People got ready for summer.)
  • Eatnamat leat várrejuvvon eanandoalu 'váste'.
  • (The lands have been reserved 'for' agriculture.)
  • Seamma vahkkoloahpa leat maiddái eahketkonsearttat buohkaid 'váste' geat dain beroštit.
  • (The same weekend, there are also evening concerts for everyone who is interested.)
  • Ii sáhte márkanságaid 'vuođul' bargat áššiiguin.
  • (You can't deal with matters 'on the basis of' village hearsay.)

There are many prepositions and postpositions with spatio-temporal meaning that also have abstract or figurative meanings.

  • Nieiddažat diggojedje dohkká 'alde/nalde'.
  • (The little girls argued over the doll.)
  • Go boađán fas searaid 'ala/nala', de joatkkán bargguin.
  • (When I get back on my feet again, I'll continue with the work.)
  • Ášši lea beaggán media 'bokte'.
  • (The issue has become well-known 'through' the media.)
  • Jus livččii mu 'duohken', de giddešin rájáid.
  • (If it had been up to me, I would have closed the borders.)
  • Doppe maid leat čuđiid 'mielde' loddenálit.
  • (There are hundreds of bird species there too.)
  • Boaresbárdni lávii eatni 'ovddas' gálgat earániid márkanis.
  • (The bachelor used to run errands 'for' his mother in the village.)
  • Moattis dagahit máŋgasa 'ovdii'.
  • (A few spoil it 'for' the majority.)
  • Mii eliimet garra stivrra 'vuolde'.
  • (We lived 'under' a strict regime.)
  • Doavttir gárttai sága 'vuollái'.
  • (The doctor became the object of gossip.)
  • Áirasat jienastedje árvalusa 'vuostá'.
  • (The representatives voted 'against' the resolution.)
  • Garra biekkat leat mearkan ahte lea manname dálvvi 'vuostá'.
  • (Strong winds are a sign that it's moving 'on toward' winter.)