What Are Prepositional Phrases?

Prepositional phrases are the kinds of things you use all the time without thinking about them. They’re groups of words that give additional information in a sentence, such as where something is, where it is going, or when it occurred.

Each prepositional phrase begins with a preposition. Prepositions are words like about, across, after, for, and in. You’ll see them in simple prepositional phrases:

  • behind the couch
  • toward the door
  • with friends
  • after school

What is the object of a preposition?

A prepositional phrase begins with a preposition and ends with an object. When we say object, we mean the thing being affected or referenced by the preposition. It’s usually a noun or noun phrase.

Here’s an example:

  • We sat beside the aqua blue sea.

In this case, beside is the preposition, and sea is the object.

Here’s another example:

  • The dog ran and hid under the bed.

Dog is the preposition, and bed is the object.

The whole prepositional phrase also includes any articles and modifiers between the preposition and object. In the first example, the is an article, and aqua blue is a modifier. You could say that the object of this prepositional phrase is the noun phrase “the aqua blue sea.”

Both personal object pronouns and indefinite pronouns can also be the object of a preposition. Personal object pronouns are words like me, him, her, and them. You’ll see them in prepositional phrases:

  • They were with me.
  • I ran toward her.

You’ll see indefinite pronouns, like one and both in phrases as well:

  • I was thinking about both.

Nouns and pronouns aren’t the only parts of speech that can be used as objects. Gerunds and noun clauses can also be the objects of a preposition. A gerund is a verb form ending in -ing that’s used as a noun, as in “They were talking about running.”

What are some common prepositions?

Prepositions are classified in a variety of ways. For example, prepositions for place include abovebehind, below, beneath, beside, between, beyond, by, in, inside, into, near, on, outside, over, under, and underneath.

Some prepositions of direction are across, down, from, into, through, throughoutto, toward, and up. After, atbeforeduring, since, and until express an element of time.

Other common prepositions include about, against, along, around, for, like, of, off, upon, with, within, and without.

Let’s look at some more examples of sentences you can construct with prepositions:

  • Put the gift inside the box.
  • The movie begins at 3 p.m.
  • She left the house without her coat.

Can I end a sentence with a preposition?

First: A prepositional phrase can be in almost any place in a sentence. It’s generally acceptable to end a sentence with a prepositional phrase.

You’ve probably heard people say that you shouldn’t end a sentence with a preposition itself. For example, some grammarians argue that the question “Where are you from?” is grammatically incorrect, and should instead be phrased as “From where are you?” As you can see, this can lead to some awkward-sounding constructions. In informal English, it’s okay to end a sentence with a preposition. The best thing to do is go with what sounds right when you read it out loud.

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