Prepositions and Prepositional Phrases

May 22, 2021

Definition: A preposition is a word that shows the relationship between a word in the sentence and the word that is the object of the preposition.You have just finished the Modifiers Module. You learned that adjectives tell which onewhat kindhow much, and how many about a noun or pronoun. You learned that adverbs tell wherewhenhow, and to what extent about verbs, adjectives, and adverbs.

Sometimes the answers to those questions take more than one word. Often those phrases are prepositional phrases.

Which one: The flower in the vase is a peony.
What kind: The umbrella with the polka-dots is Mary Anne’s.
Where: We will be going to the movies.
When: My lunch period is after science.
How: You are walking on your tiptoes.

Definition: A phrase is a group of words working together that does not have both a subject and a verb. Phrases usually act as a single part of speech. (We will get to that part later.)Prepositions can never be alone, so it makes sense to learn about prepositions in their phrases. Any lone preposition is actually an adverb.

A preposition is a word that shows the relationship between a word in the sentence and the word that is the object of the preposition.

In the previous examples:

In shows the relationship between the flower and the vase.
With shows the relationship between the umbrella and the polka-dots.
To shows the relationship between where we are going and the movies.
After shows the relationship between our lunch and science class.
On shows the relationship between how we are walking and our tiptoes.Definition: The object of the preposition is the noun following the preposition that the preposition is relating to something in the sentence.In the previous examples, the objects are vasepolka-dotsmoviesscience class, and tiptoes.Hint: To find the object of the preposition ask “What?” after the preposition.

The flower in the vase is a peony.

You found in – ask “In what?” Answer – vase. Try it with the other examples.Definition: A prepositional phrase is the preposition, the object of the preposition, and all the modifiers between the two.

in (preposition) the vase (object)
with (preposition) the polka-dots (object)
to (preposition) the movies (object)
after (preposition) science class (object)
on (preposition) your tiptoes (object)

Some teachers have their students memorize a list of common prepositions. That can be confusing because sometimes those same words act as adverbs. It is better to understand how they show a relationship.

Some Common Prepositions
Prepositions of time:after, around, at, before, between, during, from, on, until, at, in, from, since, for, during, within
Prepositions of place:above, across, against, along, among, around, at, behind, below, beneath, beside, between, beyond, by, down, in, inside, into, near, off, on, opposite, out, over, past, through, to, toward, under, underneath
Prepositions of direction/movement:at, for, on, to, in, into, onto, between
Prepositions of manner:by, on, in, like, with
Other types of prepositions:by, with , of, for, by, like, as

Do you need to know what categories they fit into? Not really. It’s just a way to sort them. Remembering timeplacedirection, and manner might help you remember what prepositions do.Hint: The word to is often a preposition, but it is just as often part of an infinitive verb. If the word after to is a verb, to is not a preposition.

Preposition: I want to go to Florida for vacation.
Infinitive Verb: I want to go to Florida for vacation.

Hint: Think of prepositions as arrows.

→ to, at, for…
← from, next to…
↔ with, between…
↑ above, on…
↓ in, inside, under, below…Hint: One of the best ways to understand prepositional phrases is to learn how to diagram sentences.