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Yes, I like to call them localizers. It is a name that seems more descriptive to me. In this article I will first describe what Localizers do. Then I will tell you how you should study them.

Why localizers?

Because they LOCALIZE your communication. Sounds vague?

Suppose you’re talking about a road. A ROAD is your context word.

A LOCALIZER will indicate the relationship you want to express involving A ROAD. Like this:

This path will lead you TO A ROAD, not a tunnel. With TO, the road is the destination.

This path will end ON A ROAD. With ON, the road is the limit.

This path is divided BY A ROAD. With BY, the road is cut into two.

Etc etc etc.

Whereas each localizer will have a specific meaning that can unfold into more co-related meanings, we can think in terms of the kind of information that they always introduce. Let’s see this with a bit more detail.

I What localizers do

1 LOCALIZERS introducing information of different kinds: space, time, the way something is (done). Here are some examples with ON:

When ON introduces space:

I can see the tiles ON the roof.

When ON introduces time:

Our next appointment is ON Monday.

When ON introduces the way something is:

This article is ON prepositions.

2 LOCALIZERS complete the meaning of words.

In Portuguese, would you say…

Gosto aprender?

No, you wouldn’t – it sounds incomplete. So you need DE.

Gosto de aprender.

In English it’s the same. A LOCALIZER will complete the meaning of a verb.

TO completes LISTEN.

Listen TO this cool song I’ve just downloaded.

If you use ‘listen’ without ‘to’ it will sound like gostar without ‘de’.

/nótichigudi/ 🙂

BECAUSE OF: OF completes BECAUSE when it is used before something

Because of WHAT? Your smile…

Difference between WHAT and WHAT?

interested in

Etc etc etc.

When a LOCALIZER completes the meaning of a word it will not necessarily reflect what happens in Portuguese. What I mean is that where in Portuguese you need a localizer, like ‘de’ in ‘gostar de’, in English you might not need anything, as is indeed the case with like.

[gostar de ] = to like

escutar = [to listen to]

esperar = [wait for]

[telefonar para] = call (So please no  use of ‘to’ after ‘call’. It is a form of BRenglish. 🙂

[sonhar com] = [dream of]

Ok, I’m against lists – better to see things happening.  Language is not about lists, it’s about meaning in use.

3 LOCALIZERS change the meaning of what you do.

[listen to] = escutar

[listen in] = bisbilhotar

IN changes the meaning of ‘listen’ from what you do with your ears and some attention, using TO:

[Listen to] this story I’ve been told.

To something intentionally ‘unauthorised’ that you do with your ears (and a lot of attention):

They were [listening in] on our conversation and now our secret is known to everyone in the neighbourhood.


Shush! Careful when you say your password! There are so many people around and I’m sure someone could easily be listening in.

And now please find a complete list – which I insist, I greatly dislike, because lists of words do not include the reasons why we use them, i.e, meanings! Lists of words are like clothes in a wardrobe. They’re not seen when no one’s wearing them.

ok, ok. Here’s the list, anyway:

II How you should study localizers

It is a lot more productive to see one localizer in action, to see it doing all these three things I’ve listed above and again below. In other words, it’s more productive to check when a localizer…

introduces space…

introduces time…

introduces a way…

completes the meaning of a word…


changes the meaning of a word (usually a verb, a.k.a. PHRASAL VERBS).

Because by doing this you have the chance of perceiving the pattern behind the LOCALIZER. By pattern I mean the movement, the principle, the “baby idea” that it transmits. Because if you stay with the ‘baby idea’ you do not force any meaning on it. This means that you are in a better position for arriving at the right understanding.

I’ll use AFTER in all these cases to show my point. Most people will think AFTER introduces a moment in time and that’s it. But no, check below.

1 I’ll see you AFTER the show. Ok. The show ends. You come to see me. This is TIME.

But it can introduce an idea in SPACE, too:

2 When you leave, please close the door AFTER yourself.

You can see that the door is behind the person who leaves, and ‘behind’ is what AFTER means here.

And AFTER will introduce a way, too.

3 This show was created AFTER a famous TV series. It means that the show follows the style of/imitates that famous TV series.

And does AFTER complete the meaning of a word? Oh, yes, it does:

4 A moment AFTER the show she turned to him and slapped him in the face. He never understood why.  A moment ___ the show – AFTER completes ‘moment’ (as opposed to a moment during the show, or a moment before the show…)

Does AFTER change the meaning of a verb? Of course.

5 I am AFTER a copy of a rare book.

TO BE AFTER something is ‘to be looking for’ something.

Conclusion: instead of translating AFTER as ‘depois’ – which will make it  hard for you to be able to interpret 2,3 and 5 above, get AFTER’s baby idea of ‘a movement following something’.

Do not translate. Just think.

This is what I’ve been doing with these words for a long time.

Here’s a link with phrasal verbs listed by the localizers they are formed with (and not by the verb that comes with them).

Give the ‘baby idea’ a try. Leave your comments.

Enjoy life. 🙂











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