another lost preposition

Charles Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Mon Feb 11 18:40:12 UTC 2008

It wasn't exactly a locus classicus, but in _American Speech_ 52(for 1977):28 I had a notula inspired by such imperative advertising slogans as "Shop Macy's" and "Fly the friendly skies of United," which sounded odd to me at the time. I titled it "Optional Prepositions"--not a very good title, since the presence or absence of a preposition isn't necessarily optional for given speakers or dialects. I made no effort to ascertain whether, historically, prepositions have been added or deleted in individual expressions. I attempted no analysis.  Here were my examples:

think (about) snow. (bumper sticker)
think (about) safety.  (road sign)
fight (against) the people of Vietnam.
exit (from) a building.
study (on, about) a matter.
beware (of) the Ides of March.
baby sit (for, with) little Mary.
strike (against) General Motors.
deliberate (on) a matter.
beat up (on) a person.
play (on) the piano.
beg (of) you.
pray (of) you.
pray (to) God that.
work (at) registration.
shit (in) one's pants.
depart (from) the city.
fuss (at) a child.


---- Original message ----
>Date: Mon, 11 Feb 2008 07:57:23 -0800
>From: "Arnold M. Zwicky" <zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU>
>Subject:      Re: another lost preposition
>On Feb 11, 2008, at 7:23 AM, Ben Zimmer wrote:
>> On Feb 11, 2008 9:48 AM, Arnold M. Zwicky <zwicky at>
>> wrote:
>>> this time in AmE vs. BrE.
>>> paraphrasing Garner's Modern American Usage (2003):
>>>  protest against: against may be omitted in AmE, but not in BrE (649)
>> Discussed by Jan Freeman last year, along with "battle (against)" and
>> "appeal (against)":
>> yankees_win/
>embarrassing, because she quotes me in this piece.
>well, back then, i wasn't collecting examples.  now i am. i have a
>Language Log piece in preparation on "ten (or so) ways to lose a

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