BASIC ENGLISH: International Second Language
Section Two, Part One, ABC, 201-211
B. II. Expansions and Special Senses
3 . NAMES of DIRECTIONS
When we are among things, the things are about us; but round now generally takes the place of about in statements like he had a number of friends round him. We still say there was no one about when the crime took place; but about is more commonly used in expansions such as a book (talk, discussion) about religion ; he is clear (right) about the facts ; he has no doubts about it, or he is making trouble about it.
There is 1 special use of about.
In addition, see come.
As we may go across the road, so one line may be across another.
See come and put.
Though after still sometimes has the sense at the back of, in the same way as before may be used for in front of, it is generally used as the opposite of before in statements about time. So something may be a long time after an event, or after my coming or after I came.
There are 2 special uses of after.
From the simple use of against in talking of a spade against a wall we get sailing against wind and working against change.
A thing which is in a group with others is said to be among them; so I am among my friends, or a fork is among the knives. In the same way, a man may be among his books; and among other things he may do work among the poor and make a distribution of food among his boys. If the distribution is unequal, there may be a fight among them.
At is used for marking position in space or time. We may make a start or a stop at any point on a line, or at the end. In the same way we may be at Tokyo, on our journey, or get to the hotel at four on a certain day. If the door is the point at which we come in, we may be said to come in at the door (though generally we come in through doors and windows).
A man may be at the top of a tree, or at the head of the government, or at a meeting. The water may be at a high level, goods may be at a low price, or at any price (levels and prices being taken as measured on a scale). We may take our meals at any time, or at regular hours. Points of time are marked by an event ; so we may go away at the request of a friend, and a gun may go off at a touch.
There are 10 special uses of at.
In addition, see all, angle, hand, loss, present, rate, school.
Though before is generally used of time, it still has its earlier sense of 'in front of when we come before a judge, or put the facts before him. On the line of time, we come across some things before others; one event is before another event, or I will see him before coming. And from this it is a natural step to the use of before as a joining word between statements -- I will see him before I come (page 161). We generally do first the things which are most pleasing to us ; and so the sense is clear if I say, "I will go to prison before I will let my friend down."
Whenever only two things are in question, between is used in the place of among. They have a space or a distance or a material between them ; time comes between events, and there is music between the acts of a play. There is a connection between, or a relation between, any two things between which we make a comparison. When one or other of two parcels is offered to us, we have to make a selection between them; when two boys are given one cake, they have to make a division of it between them, and the end will probably be a fight between them.
When a tree is near a river it is by it. In the same way, I may take a walk by the river, and if I go by something on my way somewhere, I generally go past it, so the two senses are united in the train went by (me). From I go to Leeds by London, it is a simple expansion to say that 1 go to town by a different way 36 or do a thing by daylight. One further step gives us it was done by a trick or he did it by a new process, which makes by a pointer to the 'way' in which any effect is produced, and so to the cause, doer, or maker of anything. So we may have a picture by Rubens which is covered by our insurance, or be troubled by ants, ruled by the authorities, or given punishment by death.
There are 10 special uses of by.
In addition, see side, surprise, and word.
36. But we say that we go by steamer (train, automobile), and by land (sea).
Even those who are clear that the sun comes up in the morning and goes down at night, and that they go up to the top of a mountain or go down to a lower level, are sometimes troubled by the fact that they go down a street. Why down?
If the end of the street is at a lower level the answer is simple, and if the numbers of the houses go up from 1 to 100, that is another reason for going up or down. But if the street is flat, and the houses are not numbered, it is only a question of feeling, so this gives us one of the 2 special uses.
In addition, see let.
When we have come to an end of all the names of directions in which we do things with our arms and legs, and all the expansions for the directions of time and of thought, we are still at a loss for ways of talking freely about purpose.
Our purpose is the direction in which our desires and thoughts go. When a friend is late we may be kept waiting for him. When food is in our minds, we have a desire for food, we have a need for food, we go for food ( = to get food).
So there are places for food, rooms for dancing or used for dancing. We send in our names for a position, put up our goods for offers, go into business for profit; we are given food for thought, when we do not get enough for our needs from what we do for a living; and we have time for it when there is no work for us to do. When we give support to a person or a suggestion we are for them.
It is a very short step from the idea of purpose to the idea of exchange, as is clear from the fact that what we do for a living or for money is done in exchange for a living or for money. We do not get money for nothing; we make payment for goods. If we are acting for another (for his purposes), we get credit for our care and trouble, or punishment for being foolish. We give a check for a certain amount, because that amount will be given in exchange for it.
Some statements about purpose are made by using the word to with an operation-word (pages 208-09)for gives us another way of getting round most of these:
I am ready for food ( = to have food).
There are 10 special uses of for.
This is timed for tomorrow ( = to take place tomorrow).
There is no need for noise ( = to make a noise).
In addition, see as, bad, exchange, eye, name, take.
The natural opposite of to is from. We go from a place, in the same way as we go to it, and the use of away, as in he was going away from the meeting, makes the sense of direction stronger. So we put food (away) from us. If we get away from the point, we make an attempt to get back to it ; and if we have got away from danger, we are free or safe from it.
When we take anything out of a box we equally take it from the box ; so we are said to get profit from a business, or goods from a store. In much the same way, it is clear from the history of language that one word frequently comes from another.
The chief expansion of from is as a general word for 'starting from,' and so (frequently) 'caused by.' We may say that from this time forward (or on) the weather was bad, or that a mark on our skin was from a blow.
There are 2 special uses of from.
One of the words with the greatest number of uses is in. From the physical use (in the pot, in the water, in the room, in the road, in the field, in space) there is a ready expansion to whatever is talked about as if it was a space (in the year, in flames), or a solid or liquid thing (in the light, in trouble), or a vessel (in the mind). So we get : Be in business, in comfort, in danger, in doubt, in error, in fear, in need; or (of spaces of time), in the week, in (the) summer, in (the) winter, or again (of the mind), in thought.
So a person may be in a hat (that is to say, his head is in a hat), or in shoes, or in chains, or all in black. He may be foolish in company, experienced in crime, or in the dark about what the government is doing.
Sometimes an 'adjective' is necessary to give the right sense : in bad condition, in some degree, in my opinion, in my hearing, or in such a form (that) -- which is not far from in the hope (that).
A little harder are in so far (as), in relation (to), in comparison (with), in connection (with); but no language, old or new, has any better way of getting these complex ideas across, so that in takes a very high place among words, because of the great amount of work which it is able to do for us.37
There are 10 special uses of in.
In addition, see
addition, belief, bit, common, detail, end, fertile, front, hand, interest, knot, memory, mind, order, part, question, request, step, store, support, take, taste, time, touch, turn, view, voice, way.
The expansion of of from a bit of the cake, through a day of the month, to a sort of box, is so very natural that no account of it is necessary. Let us put down some other simple uses of this sort : a group of friends, a store of apples, a bucket of great size; or again, the property of the owner, a copy of an old picture, the invention of radio ; a representative of the government and memories of the past. It would probably be a waste of time to give any more examples of such natural developments of 'of.' Everyone has the power of making more with any of the words in the list.
There are 10 special uses of of.
In addition, see front, get, good, make, memory, mind, note, support, tired, touch, view, way, word.
There is very little to say about off which would not be clear to anyone who has taken the skin off an apple. There is no doubt, for example, about the sense of he put me off doing it or what
you say is off the point. A bit of wood off a table may be cut off or broken off, the light may be turned off, and one part of a room may be curtained off.
There are 2 special uses of off.
In addition, see go, let, put.
37. There is a small number of fixed uses with common things -- in bed, In church, in prison, in town.
Most of the uses of on are very near to the physical sense. On the top, on one side, on the same side, on the right side, are all - quite natural. We may be on our feet, on land, or on the water, a coat may be on a hook, a name on a list. Not far from these are the words on one's lips, the trouble on one's mind, the song on one's brain, rules and knowledge based on facts, or the goods on the market.
Music may be on the piano or all on one note and our hair may be on end. An event may take place at 5 on a certain day in a certain week, month, or year.38 Living on one's income is specially hard when there is a tax on goods.
There are 10 special uses of on, the last of which is the use with go and keep with different operation-words or with, as in go on doing, keep on going, go on with the work, and so on.
In addition, see
act, approval, attack, condition credit, dependent, design, effect, eye, foot, get, hand, hard, impulse, keep, look, nerve, put, record, side, so, watch, work.
38. See pp. 202 and 205. The key to the right direction-word in connection with time is "at a point, on a line, In a circle."(But take note of the special use at night, see p. 216.)
Though out as a simple direction is the opposite of in, it is not possible to say : "I am in the room and you are 'out it.'" The opposite of being in (or coming into) a place is being (or going) out of it. So we get out of as the opposite of all those uses of in with physical things or places, among which we may put for this purpose, mind; and with these are to be grouped out of control, out of danger, out of hearing, out of touch, out of work
(See of,. page 217.) A small number of fixed uses like he went out (of the house or room), or the light (fire) went out (of existence) will be clear enough in the statements in which we come across them.
There are 2 special uses of out.
In addition, see get, go, let, make.
As the natural opposite of under, oven is equally simple and limited in all its chief uses. Some things which are over others may be much farther away from them than the cover which is over the meat, or the fat which is over (or on) the bone. A window may be over a door, or an airplane may be over a house, so that over becomes a more general way of saying 'on top of' or 'higher than' ; and by a simple further development we go over a wall and oven the side of a ship, or a road goes over a mountain.
A very common expansion gives us authority or power over a person; and a number on any scale which is more than another may be said to be over it, so that a person 22 years old is over 21.
There are 3 special uses of over.
When we go through the air, or take breath through the nose, our going and our breathing are made possible by the air and our noses -- much as the hole through which the rat goes is the cause of its getting away. So through comes to have the expansion, as an effect of: he got his position through you, or he made a friend through being ill.
The chief expansions of the simple use of to give very little trouble, 39 and are common in most languages. There are great numbers of words which give us a feeling that to is needed after them. Attention to details is as natural as an addition to the family, an answer to a question, or a right to property.
Another very frequent use of to is for the idea of in relation to (see page 206). For example, we generally say this line is parallel to that line (though with would be equally possible here), or this amount is equal to that amount. We say this is lined to that, near to that, special to that, or a danger to that ; again, a man may be in debt to, or married to, a woman.
The behavior of a girl to her lover may be a blow to his self-respect, and if she was kind to him at the start a wound to his feelings will be very much harder for him to put up with.
The connection between to and for in a desire for food has been made clear under for.
There are 10 special uses of to, the last of which -- able to (do) -- is in need of a separate note. It will probably become clear if we say first that to is used before an operation-word whenever there is a desire or purpose to do or have something:
He is ready to go.
He is making an attempt to get away.
He has a desire to go up the mountain.
I sent (took, got) him to have some food. 40
Generally, whenever 'for the purpose of' might be used, to may be put before the operation-word:
He has enough trouble to make him angry.
He has authority to get the baby back.
This is a place to be in for a long time.
It is time to go.
In the same way we say he is able enough to do this; or more frequently and simply, he is able to do this. And from such uses it is not hard to get the expansion he is said (an 'adjective') to be doing this, or he is said to be able to do this. For he has to do this, see have (page 214).
To is the only name of a direction which has this sort of special use with the simple form of the 'verb,' which is named the 'infinitive' in books on language.
In addition, see about, addition, angle, as, bit, come, credit, face, from, get, give, go, have, in, let, make, mind, of, put, scale, seed, so, stop, that, way, word.
39. There is a small number of fixed uses of to with common things -- we go to bed (church, prison, school, sea, work).
40. But I let (made, saw) him go, as is made clear in the account of let.
The idea of being under something is very simple and limited. In all languages its possible expansions are almost all quite straightforward. The position of authority or control is clearly the same as that of the dog which is on top in a fight ; and so we are under a ruler, or under his power, or authority. In the same way we are under the control or direction of a manager, or do our work under him.
The sense of going under, or being under a cloud, or under a person's thumb is not hard to make out, even when seen for the first time ; but we might equally well make use of some other comparison such as being overcome by hard conditions, or with public opinion against one, or under a person's power.
There are 2 special uses of under.
Most of the uses of up do not get far away from the physical direction which is given by going from some point or place to another at a higher level. Water has to come down a slope of some sort to get to the sea, so we go up a river as we go up a mountain. And in the same way we go up and down a scale or a list.
If we take a bit of paper or cloth, or the collar of a coat, and give the edge a turn, it will be turned up or down. By going one step farther materials or bedding may be rolled up.
Up is very freely used where it is not truly necessary, in examples like building up a business. So it frequently has the sense of ' up to the top,' or ' up to some complete form,' or ' up to some natural limit.'
There are 10 special uses of up.
In addition, see get, give, keep, make, put, take.
From the use of with = 'together with,' it is a very natural step in most languages to the sense of 'having' or 'making use of.' What we have is with us. So we say a man with a hat, or with wide interests; sand may get mixed with salt ; a story with a purpose may be about a person with authority.
In all forms of agreement, comparison, connection, and competition, the fact that the two sides are said to be in agreement (comparison, connection, or competition), and so, in a sense, are together in that agreement, makes with the right joining word -- even when they are having a fight (an argument, a discussion, angry words) with one another. So we may be in business with anyone ; or when we make use of books we may be rough with them, because the idea of having them (in the hands) and doing something with them is stronger than the sense of to which would make good sense (as in kind to); but in quick with his fingers ( = in the use of his fingers) there is no feeling of to, so with is the most natural connection.
In the same way we give a person a blow with the hand, or with a stick, because hands and sticks are what we have with us and make use of. But frequently by is equally possible, as in a table covered by (with) a cloth.
There are 2 special uses of with.
In addition, see get, go, have, keep, step, touch, up, young.