The same two-place preposition meaning introduced in the last section also works for predicative PPs that do not follow the copula:
(a) John put a vase under the table. (b) John put a vase on the table. (c) John put a mirror behind the flowers.These PPs are called predicative as well because they also seem to select a 2-place relation; the fact that so many prepositions are appropriate for the same syntactic slot supports the idea that their main communicative function is to distinguish among distinct 2-place spatial relations. Also, if they were argument-marking PPs we would have to have multiple puts: put_under, put_on, put_behind. But in fact there just seems to be one put which means something like CAUSE TO CHANGE LOCATION.
Other verbs with the same properties; place, hide, slip, insert, and throw. In all such cases I will refer to the thing changing locations as the theme and to the location it arrives at as the goal. Other verbs of change-of-location?
The semantics we will assume for such examples is:
Here y is the goal, an implicit syntactically unexpressed place, the place where John put the book. That place in (a) is on the table, and in (c) under the table.
(a) John put a book on the table (b) (a) John put a book under the table (d)
Sometimes more than one PP modifies the goal:
In this case there is a reading on which the place the flowers end up is both under the table and behind the vase. This is the reading represented in (b). The same multiple PP effects can be observed with path PPs, which describe the trajectory of the theme of a motion verb:
(a) John hid the flowers under the table behind the vase. (b)
The sled glided over the river through the woods to grandmother's house.In this case there's a path with an implicit order that can be made explicit with preps like from and to. More about these later.