for intermediate learners

Compound Prepositions or complex prepositions consist of two or more words that function as a single preposition. You'll learn about them here!

"Compound Prepositions" in English Grammar

What Are Compound Prepositions?

In English, we can have both single-word prepositions and compound prepositions that consist of two to three words. However, bear in mind that these compound prepositions function as one single unit and they appear before a noun or a noun phrase.

Two-word Prepositions

Some compound prepositions consist of two words. Take a look at the following list:

  • Because of
  • Aside from
  • According to
  • Instead of

Now, let us examine each one separately:

Because of

When we want to express the reason for something, we use 'because of'. Let us take a look at some examples below:

Because of the accident, she has been feeling numb lately.

People couldn't trust the police anymore, because of all the lies.

Aside from

When we want to add additional information to an idea, we often use the preposition 'aside from'.Take a look at the following examples:

Aside from the general topic, you must analyze each critic's theory separately.

Aside from being thought-provoking, it's a very well-composed criticism on Kurt Vonnegut's 'Slaughterhouse Five'.

According to

If we want to show that an idea was expressed by a specific person, authority, or source, we can use the preposition 'according to'. Let us study the following examples:

According to the judge, the trial will continue in a week.

According to Daily Mirror, the two girls were taken to jail immediately.

Instead of

We can use 'instead of', to indicate a replacement for something or someone. Check out the following examples:

Couldn't you invite Sarah instead of that stranger?

Instead of toying with my emotions, I suggest you go buy some personality for yourself.

Three-word Prepositions

As mentioned earlier, compound prepositions are not limited to two-word combinations. Below is a list of some of the most common three-word prepositions:

  • In addition to
  • On top of
  • In spite of

Now, let us examine each one separately:

In addition to

As the name suggests, when we want to add something extra along with another thing, we mainly use 'in addition to'. Now, Take a look at the following examples:

In addition to your misbehavior, you violated the law, madam.

In addition to writing a 2000-word thesis, all students are required to attend seminars.

On top of

We can use 'on top of' when we want to add something, especially something unpleasant, to an idea. Study the following examples carefully:

On top of all that homework, we are required to practice for our play.

On top of having lost in the game, the coach shouted at us.

In spite of

Usually, when we want to indicate that surprisingly something still continues, we can use 'in spite of'. Take a look at the examples:

In spite of her misbehavior, Hannah still let her back in.

How could people be so foolish to vote for him, in spite of all the difficulties?

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