Main Prepositional Phrase Takeaways:
- Prepositional phrases help show the relationships between the nouns, pronouns, and other supporting words in a sentence.
- Prepositional phrases contain a preposition, an object, and sometimes one or more modifiers.
- There are two types of prepositional phrases: adverbial and adjectival.
- “Before I leave,” is an example of an adverbial prepositional phrase.
- “The sandwich on the table” is an example of an adjectival prepositional phrase.
- Simple prepositions are just one word.
- Complex prepositions contain two or more words.
- Some words can be both adverbs and prepositions. Prepositions always relate to an object.
Prepositional phrases give your content power. Instead of simple, drab sentences that lack color, you can create an entire world of detail. Here’s a look at prepositional phrases, how they work, and the best way to use them.
What is a Preposition and Prepositional Phrase?
Prepositions are words that show the relationships between other words in a sentence. Specifically, they tend to describe when something occurred or where something is. Also, they usually come before, or a “pre-positioned” in front of, the object. Similarly, a prepositional phrase shows the relationships between the noun, pronoun, and supporting words in a sentence. There are two types of prepositional phrases: adverbial and adjectival. Prepositional phrases are usually made up of at least three elements: a preposition, an object, and any modifiers affecting the object. In their simplest form, prepositional phrases contain one preposition and one object.
In most cases, writers use a prepositional phrase to modify a verb or a noun.
For instance, why say “you went out” when you can say that “you went out to an incredible party?”
Then, you have the option to add a modifier.
“A bit” modifies or further describes the time of departure.
What is a Prepositional Phrase Example?
Here are some examples of prepositional phrases in action. We’ll give you a sentence, identify the prepositional phrase, and explain how it works.
Here, we’re demonstrating the connection between the rainbow and where the Wicked Witch lives.
How are the couch and magazine related? One fell behind the other!
Why did Eliza jump? “For joy!”
“By the elevator” indicates where the room is.
1. Adverbial Prepositional Phrase Examples
For example, we use adverbial prepositional phrases to show timing or cause and effect. They might tell you when or where something happened. They might also detail how something happened or to what extent.
In this example, “because I went to the store early” is an adverbial clause. This is because it demonstrates how the action in the second part of the sentence came to be.
“Before it sold out” is also an adverbial phrase because it described when that action took place.
Here, “Since Marika left her wallet at home” demonstrates what caused her to have to borrow money.
2. Adjectival Prepositional Phrase Examples
On the other hand, an adjective phrase modifies the noun or pronoun that comes immediately before it.
“On the island” describes the man. The object of the prepositional phrase is the island. What’s more, the phrase itself indicates how the island and the man are connected.
In this case, the pantry is the object, and the prepositional phrase is describing the link between the cake and its location.
3. Prepositions That Begin Prepositional Phrases
Here are some examples of common prepositions that you often see at the start of prepositional phrases. Jump over to our types of prepositions guide to explore a full list of common, simple and complex prepositions.
There are also some multi-word prepositions. These contain two or more words that function together to create a complex preposition.
- According to
- In spite of
- Along with
- On account of
Is it a Preposition or an Adverb?
Some words can function as prepositions and as adverbs. You can easily figure out whether a word is acting as a preposition or an adverb by looking for the object.
- If your word refers to an object, it’s probably a preposition.
- If your word doesn’t refer to an object, or there is no object in sight, it’s probably an adverb.
In the first sentence, “up” doesn’t refer to anything. There is not object. Therefore, “up” is acting as an adverb here.
However, in the second example, “up” does refer to an object. For example, “up” is followed by a noun (the hill). As a result, it’s a preposition in this case.
You can confirm that “up” is a preposition here by asking and answering this question: Where did she run? She ran up the hill!
Here’s another one:
In the first example, all we know is that Clark walked across something. We don’t know what that something is, because there is no object. Consequently, “across” is an adverb here.
In the second example, we find out that Clark walked across a courtyard. Since “courtyard” is the object, and across becomes a preposition.
Quick Prepositional Phrase Grammar Quiz
Prepositional Phrase Question #1
The answer is A. Under the bed shows the relationship between the monster and the whispers.
Prepositional Phrase Question #2
The answer is TRUE. Prepositional phrases can function as either adjective phrases or adverb phrases to modify other words in a sentence. For example, "The girl with him is his daughter."
Prepositional Phrase Question #3
The answer is C. A prepositional phrase must include a preposition, its object, and any modifiers of the object.
Prepositional Phrase Question #4
The answer is C. The object of the preposition can either be a noun or a pronoun.