A preposition is a word in front of a noun. The preposition does not decline, but it changes the case of the noun that follows it.
Most prepositions are followed by a noun in the accusative or the ablative case. Some can be followed by a noun in either case, depending on their meaning.
Prepositions + accusative
|ad||towards, to, for, at|
|apud||at, by, near, to, towards|
|iuxta||next to, near, according to|
|per||by, through, during|
Prepositions + ablative
|a (before a consonant) / ab (before a vowel) by, from|
|coram||in the presence of, before|
|de||from, concerning, of, for|
|e (before a consonant) / ex (before a vowel) from, out of|
|pro||for, during, as far as, in accordance with, in return for|
Prepositions + accusative or ablative
|in||+ accusative||into, onto|
|in||+ ablative||in, on|
The meaning of these preposition changes, using
- accusative to describe movement towards something
- ablative to describe the position of something which is static
One of the main differences between medieval Latin and Classical Latin is the increased use of prepositions.
In Classical Latin, a phrase would be given using the noun with the appropriate case ending.
In medieval Latin, the same phrase may be given using a noun and a preposition, particularly ad, de, per and pro.
‘the bishop of York’
|episcopus Eboraci||Classical Latin – using the genitive case to express ‘of’.|
|episcopus de Eboraco||Medieval Latin – using the preposition de to express ‘of’. de is followed by the ablative case.|