I am pro-digging for explanations about anti as a preposition.

Digging in the Dark
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Wessex Archaeology via Compfight

Prior to recently, I have only ever thought of anti as a prefix. However, it recently showed up on a list of “frequently used prepositions” for my AP English and Literature students. One of my students noticed it hanging out in the “A” section of the list and asked, “Is anti really a preposition?” I told her that I hadn’t ever used it as a preposition, but that I would look into it.

We were right in the middle of my model grammar lesson–the one I alluded to in my post about how grammar instruction is a big fat challenge for me–so we carried on with the lesson. The problem was that I couldn’t really think of an example of how I might use anti as a preposition. Call it a brain fart. Call it a knowledge block. Call it a lapse in the thinks. Whatever you want to call it, I couldn’t, at that moment, think of it in those terms. So, I turned to a web search. It didn’t take long to come up with a basic definition and an example sentence for how to use anti. I must sheepishly admit that it was the first entry that popped up in my search.

I sent my students this email at the end of the school day:

One of you asked about the preposition anti … I had never thought of it as a preposition before, so I did some digging. (I didn’t have to dig very far.) I found this via our friend Google –>
preposition: anti
opposed to; against.

Example: “I’m anti the abuse of drink and the hassle that it causes.”

To me this seems like an awkward say that “I’m against the abuse of drink and the hassle it causes,” but I suppose some people may use this as a way to add variety to their phrasing.

My student responded later that evening with the following message:

Interesting, thanks for looking into it! However, I am still confused on how is it a preposition. If you take that part of the sentence out, it doesn’t make sense.

I felt like she was right, until I thought about it for a while. (Here is where diagramming MAY have come in handy …) I also realized my explanation was too … first-entry-on-Google-searchish, so I responded with this:

Actually … now that I’ve pondered this a little longer I realized that it actually does (technically) make sense … I’m anti the abuse of drink and the hassle that it causes.

Really the sentence I’m … or I am can stand alone. Technically “anti the abuse …” modifies (describes) what “I am.”

For instance, look at this sentence … I’m under the table.

The subject is I and the verb is am. The prepositional phrase is under the table. It modifies where I am … Does that make sense?

I did research this further after your observation though and it seems that anti is more of a British preposition than an American one … which probably why it sounds weird to us.

My hope is that, henceforward, if you, dear reader, are ever confused about why anti is on a list of frequently used prepositions that this post will pop up on a web search and that you will dig deeply enough to find it.

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