This paper is the first to use a bottom-up, corpus-based, exploratory approach to the full range of prepositions in Early Modern English argument structure. Contrary to what previous research leads us to expect, the overall token frequency of prepositions during this period decreases, and they are not always successful against the older NP-variants. Similarly, our case study challenges earlier suggestions that PP-complements are particularly frequent in second-language varieties of English. With respect to the functions taken on by PPs in the clause, however, we provide preliminary evidence that more complement-like uses increase at the expense of more adjunct-like arguments, i.e., that PPs become more important as core elements of the clause.
Keywords: prepositions, verbal argument structure, bottom-up approach, Early Modern English, World Englishes