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  1. #11
    M56 Guest

    Default Re: Subtlety and prepositions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Marylin
    This term is used where I live.

    You can plonk a kid in front of the computer and tell him to do his homework.
    The result will be productive.
    Yes you can plonk somebody or something somewhere, but is that thing then plonked?

    I plonked him in front of the computer.
    He is plonked in front of the computer.

    Those two mean different things to me.

  2. #12
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Subtlety and prepositions.

    And if he's a plonker plonked in front of a computer, what will he do?

  3. #13
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    Default Re: Subtlety and prepositions.

    Quote Originally Posted by tdol
    Unless, he ignores your order and heads for a game site.
    Well, for that matter I can plunk myself in front of the computer to work on a thesis. Most folks would think it's productive.

  4. #14
    RonBee's Avatar
    RonBee is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Subtlety and prepositions.

    One can always hope.


  5. #15
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    Smile Re: Subtlety and prepositions.

    Hi people,

    When we use a preposition to indicate space, we do it in relation to the dimensional properties of the location concerned.
    Eg,

    My car is at the cottage

    Here the use of "at" treats "cottage" as a dimensionless location, a mere point in relation to which the position of the car can be indicated.

    Apart from simple position, prepositions may express the RELATIVE POSITION of two objects.

    The bus is in front of the bus


    I hope this helps, Maeve.

  6. #16
    M56 Guest

    Default Re: Subtlety and prepositions.

    Quote Originally Posted by maeve o'cuinn
    Hi people,

    When we use a preposition to indicate space, we do it in relation to the dimensional properties of the location concerned.
    Eg,

    My car is at the cottage

    Here the use of "at" treats "cottage" as a dimensionless location, a mere point in relation to which the position of the car can be indicated.

    Apart from simple position, prepositions may express the RELATIVE POSITION of two objects.

    The bus is in front of the bus


    I hope this helps, Maeve.
    Yes, Maeve, a good explanation of deixis and prepositions, but how do you think it relates the main question in this thread?

    I asked why we use "in front of the TV" and not "at the TV". Also, why we find the following words collocating more, if not always, with "in front of the TV" than with "at the PC"?

    Yes, I see. Apparently, the most common words that precede "in front of" are: sprawled, plonked, curled up, lounge, cosily installed, and vegetate (the main one being "slumped")

    I wonder what they are for "at the/my computer"?

  7. #17
    M56 Guest

    Default Re: Subtlety and prepositions.

    Quote Originally Posted by tdol
    I'm surprised 'chilling' hasn't started appearing.
    I'm sure it has. Do you think it would collocate more with "in front of the TV" than "in front of/at the PC"?

  8. #18
    M56 Guest

    Default Re: Subtlety and prepositions.

    A couple of concordance results:

    have the choice of when to work. But I work long hours at home, usually ten
    hours or more a day, and it's very lonely sometimes, sitting in front of a
    typewriter
    . Journalist: You mean you do your own typing, yourself? Mr
    Williams: Oh yes - I never turn my writing over to a typist; I like to do it all
    myself. Journalist: What are you working on at the moment? Mr Williams:

    -----------------------------
    Most of our evenings, we stay in, just sitting in front of the television and being together. I watch Dallas, Top of the Pops, the Old Grey Whistle Test, and some quiz shows.

    Bothe extract found at:

    http://www.lextutor.ca/concordancers/concord_e.html

    -------------------

    And Google:

    Results 1 - 7 of about 8 English pages for "slumped in front of the pc".
    Results 1 - 100 of about 666 English pages for "slumped in front of the TV".

    Results 1 - 2 of about 3 English pages for "plonked in front of the pc".
    Results 1 - 65 of about 318 English pages for "plonked in front of the TV

    Results 1 - 100 of about 813 English pages for "vegetate in front of the TVResults 1 - 4 of about 7 English pages for "vegetate in front of the Pc"

    Now this is interesting:

    Results 1 - 4 of about 104 English pages for "lounge in front of the Pc".
    Results 1 - 100 of about 396 English pages for "lounge in front of the TV".

    I wouldn't have expected to find "lounge" collocating with "PC".

  9. #19
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Subtlety and prepositions.

    I'm surprised too, but I don't use the PCfor games and other leisure stuff.

  10. #20
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    Default Re: Subtlety and prepositions.

    Quote Originally Posted by M56
    Yes, Maeve, a good explanation of deixis and prepositions, but how do you think it relates the main question in this thread?

    I asked why we use "in front of the TV" and not "at the TV". Also, why we find the following words collocating more, if not always, with "in front of the TV" than with "at the PC"?

    Because you are not close to the TV. You are closer to the PC than to the TV set. I think they consider that the position you have when you are "at the PC" is one dimension. A point.
    And when you are "in front" of the TV there is a longer distance between you and the TV set, and you are relating two different points because of that distance precisely.

    This discussion about prepositions has to do more with semantics than with grammar. I think you should go to some Semantics book and look for "Dimensions and Prepositions" and you will get vast information concerning this, but I am not sure you will agree with the explanations. It's like splitting hairs to me!

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