Scots Learners’ Grammar

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8. Prepositions 


Many can also be used as adverbs. Some of the most common are:

ablow belowaboot aboutabuin above

aff off

aff o from

afore before, prior to

agin against

ahint behind

alang along

amang among

aneith beneath

anent alongside, regarding (in a letter) aroon around

as as

aside beside

at at

athort across

athoot without

atween between

ayont beyondben within a housebi wey o via

by by, past

doon down

doon by down there

efter after

fornent opposite

frae/fae from

for for

furth out of a town, country etc

in in

in aneith under, underneath in maugre/spite o despite

in o inside

inby within, inside a building

intae within, inside

intil into

nar near

o ofon onontae onto

or until

oot out (of)

ootby out-of- doors, outlying

ootwi(th) outside

ower over

roond round

syne since

throu through, during

tae/till to

till till

taeward toward

unner under

up up

upon upon

wantin without

wi(th) with

wi-in, within.

Many of these can be used as compounds e.g. intil, inower, ootower (outside), in o, aff o, naraboots etc. Note the related hereawa (hereabouts), therrawa (thereabouts), yonderaboots (there or thereabouts).

The positioning of prepositions such as aff, oot is sometimes different from English equivalents

He took aff his bunnet (He took his cap off)

She humphed oot the bucket (She hauled the bin out)

Otherwise use is broadly similar to English although there are some variations especially related to nouns e.g. think on (think about), merrit on/wi (married to), beelin at (angry with), ower the windae (out of the window), in a praisent (as a present), wyte on (wait for), cry on (call to), feart for (afraid of), mind o (remember), lippen tae (depend on), speir at (ask, request), get oot the road (out of the way), ask for (enquire after someone’s health), lauch on (laugh at).

Needs and wants don’t take tae but use a past participle instead.

The wife wants taen hame (My wife would like to be taken home)

Thon hoose needs pentin (That house requires to be painted).

Prepositions are idiosyncratic and illogical in most language and therefore quite difficult to learn. The best way is to ‘collect’ examples.

This highly idiomatic use of prepositions to greatly extend the meaning of verbs, although of course a feature of standard and colloquial English, is very common in Scots and to some extent belies the claim that Scots has a restricted vocabulary.

A few other examples are

come roon recovergie in tae confessgit on be friendly

git thegither assemble

git gaun rile

gae agin argue

gae wrang lose one’s way

tak tent pay attention

gae efter chasetak efter resemblepit doon for register

pit oot advertise

pit by save

be pit oot offended

pit on pretend.