Implicit cognitive meanings of the spatial prepositions in, on, and at in English



implicit meaning, conceptual metaphor, cognitive grammar, English prepositions


Learning English prepositions is deemed as a difficult task for EFL learners (Cheng, 2006) because some English prepositions have many similar but slightly different meanings (Boers & Demecheleer, 1998; Radden, 1985). EFL leaners face difficulty in using English prepositions because they may only learn the linguistic forms but not the conceptual meanings embedded in prepositions. The purpose of this research is to investigate English spatial prepositions in, on, and at from a cognitive perspective, e.g. the theory of conceptual metaphor (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980) and cognitive grammar (Langacker, 2008). The investigation of the present study was mainly done with document analysis (Bowen, 2009; O’Leary, 2014). After reviewing many primary and previous studies (Dikken, 1995; Freeborn, 1987; Lindstromberg, 1996, 2010; Nishimura, 2005; Radden, 1985), the findings show that English prepositions in, on, and at have not only their prototypical meanings but also implicit meanings, which may be extended by metaphors. It is also found that there is an intimate relationship between the spatial and temporal meanings of prepositions. Besides, the prototypical meanings of in, on, and at can be the foundation to learn other spatial or temporal concepts. Therefore, it is suggested that understanding metaphors and the implicit meanings embedded in prepositions can help EFL students’ learning of English language.



How to Cite

Wang, C. (2020). Implicit cognitive meanings of the spatial prepositions in, on, and at in English. International Journal of Linguistics and Translation Studies, 1(2), 70–83.