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Prepositional Phrase

What is the meaning of preposition? What actually is the distinction between prepositions and prepositional phrases? And how do you decide when you should use one?

In this article, we will explore the basics, concepts and essentials of what they are and provide some relevant examples.

Prepositional Phrase

What Exactly Is a Prepositional Phrase?

Before we can describe a prepositional phrase, we should first understand what a preposition is. The goal is to determine where something is in respect to another.

A preposition is a term that governs the use of a noun or pronoun.

It can be employed before or after the nouns, pronouns, infinitives, or gerunds. Prepositions are quite adaptable. They can represent time, place, spatial relations, directions, and other abstract ideas.

Prepositional Phrase

Below are few examples of these many types of prepositions :

  1. Location: They bumped into Sammy at her shop
  2. Direction: Look to the left, and you will be able to see the car
  3. Space: We played below the swingset
  4. True: She has been practising since morning

Now that you understand what a preposition is let's look at what creates a prepositional phrase.

A prepositional phrase is merely a collection of words that includes a preposition and its object. Words that change the object can also be included. The modifier is usually the noun, infinitive, or gerund type of the linked verb.

One must be aware of various distinct forms of prepositional phrases. These will be covered in the below-mentioned section.

Remember that prepositions are terms that express the links between different elements in a statement, and you'll have no trouble detecting prepositional phrases.

A prepositional phrase is a collection of words that act as a cohesive part of speech despite the absence of the verbs or the subjects. It typically comprises of a preposition followed by a noun or a preposition followed by a pronoun.

Rules of Prepositional Phrase

Remembering the following guidelines for prepositional phrases will make employing them much easier.

  1. Prepositional sentences always have two essential parts: the object and the preposition
  2. Prepositions are usually always accompanied by objects in formal English
  3. In prepositional phrases, adjectives can be put in between prepositions and the objects
  4. A prepositional phrase can function as an adverb or adjective. When employed as adjectives, they change nouns and pronouns similarly to single-word adjectives
  5. When employed as adverbs, prepositional phrases function similarly to single-word adverbs and adverb clauses, altering adjectives, verbs, and other adverb

Prepositions and the objects of the prepositions are the minimal conditions for generating the prepositional phrases, just as bread and butter are the minimum necessary for making a decent sandwich. The title of the nouns or the pronouns that follow the preposition is the object of the prepositions.

Prepositional sentences do not have to be straightforward. Adding other words, such as adverbs or adjectives, is an excellent way to spice up prepositional phrases, just like adding more components to a sandwich. As you examine the prepositional phrase examples below, you'll note that the first statement in each set comprises a basic prepositional phrase, whereas the second comprises a more fascinating one.

Prepositional Phrase Examples

The below-mentioned sentences provide instances of prepositional phrases; the prepositional phrase for each statement is italicized for ease of identification.

  • The cheesecake with confetti is yours
  • The cheesecake with colourful confetti is yours
  • Researchers climbed up the slope
  • Researchers climbed up the very big slope
  • The bunnies ran around the yard
  • The bunnies jumped through the well-kept yard

Prepositional Phrase Types

A prepositional phrase usually alters a verb or a noun. Adverbial and adjectival prepositional phrases are the two types of prepositional phrases.

Here is how to tell the difference.

Prepositional Phrase

1. Prepositional Adverbial Phrases

The prepositional phrases that alter the verb is known as the adverbial or adverb prepositional phrases. Since adverbs change the verb, it is understood to act adverbially when the phrase works on the verb.

Below are some of the adverbial prepositional phrases:

E.g. 1: "The cat leaped up in delight. "
This statement replies or answers to the inquiry, "How did she leap? "

E.g. 2: "Check in the canteen to find the lecturer who teaches physics. "
This statement provides a solution to the query, "Check where? "

Now let us have a look at the other type of the prepositional phrase

2. Prepositional Adjective Phrases

The prepositional phrases that change the noun is known as the adjectival or adjective prepositional phrases. Adjective phrases are formed when a prepositional phrase performs adjectively.

Here are two instances of prepositional adjectives :

Example 1: "The artwork on the beginning is the finest. "
This phrase answers to the issue of which artwork the writer considers to be the finest.

Example 2 "Michael wants to eat at the cafe near the mall, "
This statement tells us which cafe Michael wishes to visit

Prepositional Phrase

3. Prepositional Phrases That Act as Nouns

In addition to adverb and adjective prepositional phrases, certain prepositional phrases can function as nouns. This does not happen that frequently, but it's something to be cautious of.

Here are some instances of prepositional phrases that can be used as nouns:

Example 1: "Before the exhibition will be too soon for us to go to dinner."

Example 2: "During the interval time is the perfect time to speak to your pals."

Prevalent Prepositional Phrase Mistakes

There are a few typical mistakes that authors make that one must be mindful of no matter what form of the prepositional phrase you use.

Here are three frequent pitfalls to avoid while writing with prepositional phrases:

1. Never place your prepositional phrase vaguely
For instance, He pet her cat in the store. It is tricky and hard to understand that in the store is an adverb altering the pet, or it is the adjective altering the pet. So one can change it to "He pet her cat that was in the store or He was in the store when he pet his cat. So, it is better to re-phrase in a clearer manner.

2. Never treat or consider the prepositional phrase as the subject of the verbs.
This is common when the prepositional phrase is preceding the verb. For instance, "A pouch of candies were given to the kids." The subject is the pouch, not the candies. So instead of were, the statement must have "was".
So, the right sentence is, "A pouch of candies were given to the kids."

3. One should limit the excessive usage of the Prepositional Phrases.
Incorporating too many prepositional phrases can often make the content too clumsy and un-understandable. Moreover, if someone notices more than one phrase after each sentence, one must consider editing the content or writing.

Prepositional phrases may appear difficult at first, but they may be identified with practice. Always find the common prepositions such as the ones listed above. Avoid typical errors such as making the prepositional phrases the subjects of the verbs. Prepositions and prepositional phrases will become part of the routine as you exercise.

Common Prepositional Phrases

Although there are several phrases, these are some of the most common prepositional phrases.

At the latest At least At once At a profit
By chance By the way By no means By mistake
For instance For example For a while For sale
For a change In the end On time On page
Under discussion Under no circumstances Under a tree Along the road
Across the sea Around the globe According to the time Before we begin
To the park Through the forest Out the cabin Amid the challenge
With regard to For life Out of stock With regret
By post By luck By law By heart
Under review For hire On the go By far
In debt At risk One edge On holiday
In a hurry In tears In brief In fact
After many attempts Up the hill Over the lake Until midnight

Examples of Prepositional Phrases as Adjectives

Adjectives alter the nouns, pronouns, and other adjectives. They might be simple terms that convey more information. "The ancient book seemed so fascinating," for example. On the other hand, prepositional phrases can function as adjectives, offering additional information about nouns.

Examine how they can inform us more about the nearby noun (in italics):

  1. The novel with the shabby cover is my preferred choice
  2. All the people aboard the speeding train were nervous
  3. The gift inside the large box is sacred
  4. Our manager put out a note regarding the new principle
  5. The hints within the last few sections will direct to the criminal
  6. Victor is only one vocalist among many, but it will be listened to
  7. The extra pillow is in the package under the chair
  8. Samuel, unlike many others, will stay
  9. The taxi beside the blue one is the one I like to purchase
  10. The region outside the border is risky to pass
  11. All cabins below the balcony are for resting
  12. Tell me the narrative about the gravedigger

Examples Of Prepositional Phrases as Adverbs

Adverbs change verbs and other adverbs, whereas adjectives alter nouns. They, too, can be made up of simple terms. "She hurriedly raced for the gate," for instance. Prepositional phrases can also function as adverbs, offering further information about verbs (shown in italics). As an example:

  1. Rushing toward the end zone, Sally realized she might just succeed
  2. My grocery list needs to be placed into my handbag
  3. The balloon floated up the stairwell
  4. Place the freshly cut flowers on the lower shelves
  5. Despite all obstacles, our team triumphed against all odds
  6. The Lion crawled over the pasture
  7. The authors will order pizza during the second period
  8. I'm going to climb up the tallest mountain today
  9. I prefer to take my SUV off the highway
  10. The newborn cried well into the evening
Prepositional Phrase

Some More Types or Forms of Prepositional Phrases

The Noun-Modifying Prepositional Phrase That Works As Adjectives

A prepositional phrase can function on a noun, and in this situation, it acts in the same manner that an adjective might because an adjective can alter a noun. In this scenario, the prepositional phrase is known as an adjectival phrase. Let us look at a few instances of this.

  1. The bird at the side is the biggest
  2. Johnny always purchases his outfits from the flea market on the James Street
  3. My friend decided to shift into an apartment by the hills

The adjectival phrase is employed in the preceding examples to provide additional information about the noun. The first sentence provides more details about the location of the bird, whereas the second sentence provides more details about the location of the apartment. The prepositional phrase provides further detail, which an adjective would ordinarily accomplish.

The Prepositional Phrase That Alters A Verb

In some cases, the prepositional phrase can operate on a verb, which is known as adverbial behaviour. This is due to the fact that an adverb is typically employed to change a verb. Adverbial phrases are formed when a prepositional phrase is utilized in this manner. Let us look at some examples of this.

  1. If you would like to know who is banging the door, look beside you.
  2. Michael walked along the road with dignity.

In both of the preceding cases, the adverbial phrase answers the query 'in what way?' The first instance could be a response to the query, "Who is banging on the door?" The second instance could be a response to the question, "How did Michael walk along the road."

Prepositional Phrases That Function As Nouns

Prepositional phrases can occasionally function as nouns in a statement

  1. During the flag and anthem is the bad time to clear your throat
  2. After the tournamenwill be too late for them to go to supper
  3. Behind the building is the shop
  4. After the film is the ideal time to get lunch
  5. During travelling is a great time to follow up on pending tasks
Prepositional Phrase

How to Avoid Using Too Many Prepositional Phrases

It's easy to employ too many prepositions and prepositional phrases. If you notice more than one preposition every 10 or 15 words in your writings, you must remove some of them. When you put in the work, you will be amazed to see how much more graceful and efficient your writing becomes.

It is ideal to act with due care when running with a dagger in the existence of Superman.

This statement contains no grammatical errors, but it contains two "with" phrases, an "of" phrase, and an "in" phrase, indicating that it may be expressed more effectively.

In Superman's presence, run carefully with daggers.
With caution and care, several prepositional phrases could be replaced with the corresponding adverb carefully. Superman was just a possessive that could be easily transformed into Superman's. There are now only two prepositional phrases instead of four.

Switching from an inactive to an active voice is another approach to decrease prepositional phrases. There is a well-known example to demonstrate this principle.

Why was the street crossed by the dog?

Evidently, the passive voice makes this statement cumbersome, and the prepositional phrase alongside the dog sounds a bit odd. It would be efficiently expressed in an active voice, with the dog in the driving seat where it belonged.

Why did the dog cross the street?

Prepositional phrases should be used with caution since they can be confusingly placed, excessively used, or incorrectly placed. If there is true ambiguity, place your prepositional phrase next to or rewrite your sentence.


Prepositional phrases are a powerful way to add information. Also, they can serve as adjectives and function as adverbs. Now that you are accustomed to prepositional phrases start practising them on your own.

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