What Is a Prepositional Phrase?
Prepositional Phrase: Structure
A prepositional phrase consists of a preposition and the object that follows it. This object of a preposition can be:
Prepositions + a Noun Phrase
A large number of prepositions can be followed by a single noun, a noun phrase, or a pronoun.
- preposition + noun (phrase)
- preposition + pronoun
Preposition + Noun
Have you heard anything
Preposition + Pronoun
Preposition + Noun Phrase
Prepositions + a Noun Clause
Not all prepositions are followed by noun phrases. Some need a noun clause as their object. These noun clauses can be:
Prepositions + Nominal Relative Clauses
Nominal relative clauses can appear immediately after certain prepositions and act as their object.
I'm not sure
When a relative pronoun is the object of a preposition, there are two possibilities:
- In informal English, the preposition is placed at the end of the relative clause and the relative pronoun can be omitted.
- In formal English, the preposition is placed before the relative pronoun, and the relative pronoun cannot be omitted.
|Informal English||Formal English|
|Was that the girl (who) he came with?||Was that the girl with whom he came?|
|It is a golf club (which) many collage students belong to.||It is a golf club to which many collage students belong.|
|I love the family (that) I live with.||I love the family with whom I live.|
|Do they know the boy (that) Mary is talking to?||Do they know the boy to whom Mary is talking?|
Prepositions + Participle Clauses
A noun in the form of the present participle of a verb can also appear after prepositions. Present participles can also be used as an object of prepositions.
Certain prepositions require a participle as their object and cannot be used with a bare infinitive. These prepositions are commonly used with:
- prepositional verbs: interested in, keen on, proud of, sick of, sorry about/for, etc.
- certain adjectives: advantage of, chance of, choice between, etc.
- nouns that require prepositions: accuse of, agree with, apologize for, etc.
I'm interested in
You have a choice between
lose my temper.')
Prepositions + Bare Infinitive Clauses
The object of certain prepositions can only be a bare infinitive, which is the base form of the verb. For example:
We should all rejoice,
A single word in a sentence can be modified by multiple prepositional phrases acting as adjuncts.
Prepositional Phrases: Functions
A prepositional phrase can function as four different types of elements:
Prepositional Phrases as Adjuncts
Prepositional phrases as adjuncts are optional, descriptive elements in a sentence that provide additional information about the manner, time, place, frequency, purpose, or degree of the main action or clause. Here are some examples:
Mason played his guitar
He studied all night
The team won the game
She practices yoga
Prepositional Phrases as Complements
Prepositional phrases can function as complements in sentences when they provide essential information that completes the meaning of a part of the sentence. In this case, prepositional phrases can act as all types of complements which are as follows:
- Subject complement: a prepositional phrase may function as a subject complement when it provides necessary information about the subject and follows a linking verb. For example:
An ideal time to visit the beach is
The idea seems
- Object complement: When a prepositional phrase provides essential information about the direct object, it is acting as an object complement. For example:
She has a fear
She always puts her family
- Adjective complement: a prepositional phrase that completes the meaning of an adjective or adjective phrase can function as an object complement. For example:
She is ashamed
He is happy
- Noun complement: Quantity words require a prepositional phrase that is usually headed by 'of' to complete their meaning. Take a look at some examples:
She gave me a beautiful pair
The tailor measured ten meters
Prepositional Phrases as Noun Modifiers
A noun modifier is a part of the sentence that gives additional information about a noun or noun phrase. Prepositional phrases are often used as noun modifiers when they appear after the noun. Here are some examples:
The preposition phrase 'with the leather jacket' modifies the noun 'notebook'.
Prepositional Phrases as Indirect Objects
A prepositional phrase can act as an indirect object to indicate the recipient or beneficiary of the action. It usually answers the question "to/for whom" or "to/for what" after the verb. Here are some examples:
He gave a gift
She wrote a letter
In this sentence, no direct object is needed.
An adverb can come before a gradable preposition, particularly those indicating time or place, to modify it.
We stayed up talking far
The antique store you're looking for is just
- Noun modifiers
- Indirect objects
- What Is a Prepositional Phrase?
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