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Derivative prepositions (производные предлоги) and how to get them right Posted by on Jul 23, 2020 in Grammar, language, Russian for beginners

Prepositions (предлоги) are functional words that work together with nouns, noun phrases, and pronouns to show direction, time, and relation to other objects.

Other wonderful blogs on this platform have covered prepositions (Russian prepositions of direction, prepositions of time, “в” or “на”) and provided great guidance on when to use them and even how to pronounce them. Today, I want to talk to you about derivative prepositions (производные предлоги) and what makes them so interesting.

For starters, let’s cover some basic tips and tricks on the usage of derivative prepositions.


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Prepositions always belong to nouns, noun phrases, and pronouns

«Он обошёл вокруг дома». → “Он обошёл [вокруг чего?] вокруг дома” (“He walked around the house.”)

“В отличие от бабушки, Маша знает как пользоваться беспроводными наушниками.” → “[В отличие от кого? В отличие от бабушки…]”


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Ask the question. If you can ask a direct question about the word, then it is NOT a preposition.

«Иванов проехал [как?] мимо» → “мимо” is an adverb. (Ivan drove by.)

The preposition is ALWAYS part of the question:

«Иванов проехал [мимо кого?] мимо меня» → “мимо” is a preposition here.

Structurally, homonymous prepositions and adverbs have different dependencies in the sentence. For example:

“поступить наперекор” (“to go against”) = verb + adverb

“поступить наперекор судьбе” (“to go against fate”) = verb + preposition + noun

Derivative prepositions that came from nouns usually shift in meaning, for example:

“идти неизвестным путём” (“to follow an unknown route”). The noun “путь” becomes “путём” in instrumental case here and means “route”.

“проверить путём экспериментов” (“to test by means of making experiments”). Here, “путём ” as a preposition means “by means of” and creates a relation between the noun “экспериментов” and the verb “проверить”.


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Derivative prepositions are almost always replaceable with a synonymous non-derivative prepositions (непроизводные предлоги):

«Я договорился насчёт доставки» — «Я договорился о доставке».

Here, prepositions “насчёт” and “о” are synonymous.

Some other examples include:

вследствие дождей → из-за дождей.

Be careful with derivative prepositions “в течение”, “в продолжение”, “в заключение”, “в отличие”, “вследствие”, “наподобие”, “во избежание” since they are written almost exactly as the nouns from which they came from. Just remember that prepositions, unlike their “parent” nouns, won’t change the ending from “е” to “и”.

Refer to the aforementioned tricks and ask questions to check whether something is a noun or a preposition.

“Илья находился [в чём? где?] в заключении. → noun. (“Ilya was in captivity.”)

“В заключение [в заключение чего?] вышесказанного… → preposition. (“In conclusion…”) Prepositions are always part of the question.


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Test out the sentences below and see if you can determine which of them have derivative prepositions and which contain homonymous nouns, noun phrases, and adverbs.

  1. Чтобы вовремя приехать (навстречу / на встречу), мы выехали пораньше.
  2. Когда (навстречу / на встречу), гостям вышла молодая женщина, я сразу узнал её.
  3. (В продолжении / в продолжение) дня отец несколько раз вспоминал свою жизнь.
  4. (В следствии / вследствие) аварии лифт не работал (в течении / в течение) недели.
  5. (Вначале / в начале) урока мы читали текст из учебника.
  6. Мы идем в поход (вместе / в месте) с родителями.
  7. (В месте / вместе) падения метеорита образовался кратер.
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