Grammar 6 min read

Easy Prepositional Phrase Guide with Examples

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.

Great idea: Want to make sure people find your content online? INK is the world's favorite editor for creating web content because it can help your content be more relevant for search engines.
Get the Best Writing Tool For Free
First AI web content optimization platform just for writers
A cartoon girl sits on the left side of the image leaning against the text PREPOSITIONAL PHRASE. Above her head is a thought bubble that contains examples of prepositional phrases like
Prepositional phrases outline the relationships between a sentence’s nouns, pronouns, and other supporting words.

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?”

She’s scheduled to leave before noon.

Then, you have the option to add a modifier.

She’s scheduled to leave a bit before noon.

“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.

The Wicked Witch lives somewhere over the rainbow.

Here, we’re demonstrating the connection between the rainbow and where the Wicked Witch lives.

My magazine fell behind the couch.

How are the couch and magazine related? One fell behind the other!

Eliza jumped for joy.

Why did Eliza jump? “For joy!”

To make things easier, she reserved a room by the elevator.

“By the elevator” indicates where the room is.

To characters show the relationship between prepositions and nouns. On the right is a taller man with a sign around his neck that reads Preposition. To his left is a smaller woman holding his hand. She has a sign around her neck that reads NOUN.
We use prepositions with nouns to emphasize, connect, or clarify ideas.

1. Adverbial Prepositional Phrase Examples

Adverbial clauses get their name from the fact that they function as adverbs.

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.

Adverbial Prepositional Phrases contain a preposition. But, the entire phrase functions as an adverb. This is because the phrase shows when, how, or why something happened.
Because I went to the store early, I was able to get the new video game before it sold out.

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.

Since Marika left her wallet at home, she had to borrow money for the bus.

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.

Adjectival Prepositional Phrases contain a preposition. But, the entire phrase functions as an adjective. This is because the complete phrase describes the object it follows.
The man on the island made friends with a volleyball.
A boy and girl holding hands while pointing in different directions. The girl on the left wants to go somewhere else.
An adjectival phrase modifies the noun or pronoun that comes immediately before it in a sentence.

“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.

The slice of cake in the pantry is mine.

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.

Common 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.

Preposition or Adverb?

  • 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.
Adverb: She ran up.
Preposition: She ran up the hill.

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:

Adverb: Clark walked across.
Preposition: Clark walked across the courtyard.

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.

Prepositional phrase cheat sheet. Prepositional phrases show the connections between parts of speech. A girl holding a rope with banners labeled as noun, pronoun, and supporting words. A prepositional phrase is a combination of a preposition and an object. Two types of prepositional phrases: adjectival phrases and adverbial phrases. A boy saying adjectival phrases are prepositional phrases that function as adjectives. A young woman saying adverbial phrases are prepositional phrases that function as adverbs. Some examples of prepositional phrases include by chance, in time, at the end, on schedule, in demand, out of breath, by accident, out of date, in danger, on a diet, in focus, at risk, by luck, and at sight. Preposition vs. adverb. A preposition needs and object. An adverb doesn't need an object.
INK Prepositional Phrase Infographic

Quick Prepositional Phrase Grammar Quiz

Prepositional Phrase Question #1

Select the prepositional phrase in this sentence: The monster under the bed whispers at night.
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is A. Under the bed shows the relationship between the monster and the whispers.

Prepositional Phrase Question #2

A prepositional phrase can function as an adjective or an adverb in a sentence.
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

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

Which of these is not a prepositional phrase?
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is C. A prepositional phrase must include a preposition, its object, and any modifiers of the object.

Prepositional Phrase Question #4

What is the name of the noun that is part of the prepositional phrase?
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is C. The object of the preposition can either be a noun or a pronoun.

Read More: When to Use Comma Before Such As: the Definitive Guide

First AI Web Content Optimization Platform Just for Writers

Found this article interesting?

Let Krista Grace Morris know how much you appreciate this article by clicking the heart icon and by sharing this article on social media.

Profile Image

Krista Grace Morris

Krista heads up Marketing and Content Creation here at INK. From Linguistics and History to puns and memes, she's interested in the systems we create to share our ideas with each other.

Comments (2)
Most Recent most recent
  1. Profile Image
    saurabhn singh September 02 at 10:45 am GMT

    Written by heart !!

    • Profile Image
      Krista Grace Morris Author September 02 at 11:06 am GMT

      Hi, Saurabhn! Thank you for reading. We definitely put our heart, soul, and a lot of research into these pieces. I’m happy you found it valuable. Take care!

share Scroll to top

Link Copied Successfully

Sign in

Sign in to access your personalized homepage, follow authors and topics you love, and clap for stories that matter to you.

Sign in with Google Sign in with Facebook

By using our site you agree to our privacy policy.