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Double Preposition

Conceptually, the double preposition is very similar to the compound preposition: both consist of two-word phrases. However, the double preposition is formulated through the conjunction of two simple prepositions—whereas the compound preposition is formulated through the conjunction of a non-prepositional word and a simple preposition.

In practice, the compound preposition tends to signify spatial relation, whereas the double preposition tends to signify movement.

Improving English skills with double prepositions

The double preposition is a proposition that is made by combining two simple prepositions. For example, the phrase "out of" would be a double preposition, since both "out" and "of" are simple prepositions.

That is more or less all there is to it. You use the double preposition in the same way that you use simple prepositions; the only difference is that it is constructed in a somewhat more complex way. 

Proper grammar and examples of the term 

For your reference, here is an example of the double proposition being used correctly in a sentence. 

"When the adolescent came out of the closet about his sexuality, he experienced significant changes in his social life." 

In this sentence, the double preposition is "out of"; it indicates the relationship between the adolescent and the closet. 

Now, here is an example of incorrect usage of the double preposition.

"The lava from the Yellowstone Super Volcano rose of beneath the deep underground layers of the earth."

The correct double preposition here would be not "of beneath" but rather "from beneath". "Of beneath" is not a properly formed English preposition. 

Just in case you are still a little confused, here are a could basic guidelines for you about the double preposition the next time you have to write an essay, research paper, or any other type of assignment.

  1. The double preposition usually expresses a relation of movement of some kind. This is not because of the basic nature of the double preposition per se, but rather simply because it is difficult to combine any two simple prepositions in a proper way that does not express such a relation. 
  2. Again, the double preposition is just formed through the combination of two simple prepositions. There are some quite common ones in English; you may just need some practice and experience in order to know which formulations are grammatically proper and which are not.  

Double prepositions in action

The double preposition is different in its structure from the similarly termed compound preposition and shouldn't be confused with a complex preposition. This is because in the case of the latter, a preposition is combined with some other word; whereas in the case of the double preposition, a preposition is combined with another preposition.

In addition, the double preposition is also different from the complex preposition because whereas the latter has a word inbetween two prepositions, the former has no such intermediate word. 

All of these are extremely similar concepts, and it is very understandable if you may mix them up at times. For your reference, here is a symbolic formulation of the three kinds of preposition mentioned above (where P = simple preposition and W = some other word).

Double preposition: P + P; compound preposition: W + P; complex preposition: P + W + P. All of these are used in exactly the same way and fulfill the same function within the context of any given sentence. The only difference is in the structure of the preposition itself. 

Again, the double preposition generally tends to express movement. So, if you get confused when writing an essay or any other type of paper about what kind of preposition is in front of you, this may be a good thing to keep in mind. Not all movement is necessarily indicated by a double preposition, but it is at least common for movement to be indicated in such a way. 

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