As you learn English, you will encounter various types of phrases. Prepositional phrase is among the most common. In this reference, we will explore what prepositional phrases are, how to identify them, common prepositions used in phrases, and how to distinguish them from other phrase types.
What is a Prepositional Phrase?
A prepositional phrase is a set of words that starts with a preposition and ends in a noun, pronoun, or gerund. Prepositions themselves indicate the relationship between the noun or pronoun and other elements in the sentence.
So, in the sentence "The cat is on the mat," the prepositional phrase is "on the mat." "On" is the preposition, and "mat" is the object of the preposition. Together, they form the prepositional phrase.
How to identify prepositional phrases
To identify a prepositional phrase, look for a word that indicates a relationship between a noun or pronoun and other elements in the sentence. The most common prepositions include "in," "on," "at," "with," "from," "to," "about," and "for."
Once you have identified the preposition, look for the object. The object is the noun, pronoun, or gerund that follows the preposition. Together, the preposition and the object form the prepositional phrase.
Common prepositions used in phrases
As mentioned earlier, there are several prepositions commonly used in prepositional phrases. Some of the most common include:
- In: "The book is in the bag."
- On: "The picture is on the wall."
- At: "I will meet you at the park."
- With: "She is eating with a fork."
- From: "I received a letter from my friend."
- To: "He is going to the store."
- About: "They are talking about the weather."
- For: “She bought a gift for her friend.”
Examples of prepositional phrases in sentences
Prepositional phrases in sentences:
- "I went to the store with my sister."
- "The dog is under the table."
- "The flowers in the garden are beautiful."
- "He is sitting on the chair."
- “The plane is flying over the mountains.”
Prepositional Phrases vs. Other Phrase Types
One of the most common types of phrases in English is the noun phrase. It's a group of words that includes a noun and any modifiers or articles that describe it.
For example, in the sentence "The big, brown dog barked loudly," the noun phrase is "the big, brown dog." This phrase does not include a preposition and therefore is not a prepositional phrase.
For example, in the sentence "She will be singing at the concert," the verb phrase is "will be singing." This phrase does not include a preposition and is therefore not a prepositional phrase.
In short, look out for parts of speech and you'll easily be able to tell different kinds of phrases from each other.
Identifying prepositional phrases in complex sentences
In complex sentences, prepositional phrases can be more difficult to identify. A complex sentence includes an independent clause and one or more dependent clauses.
To identify prepositional phrases in complex sentences, start by identifying the independent clause and any dependent clauses. Once you have identified the clauses, look for prepositions and their objects within the clauses.
5 Examples of Preposition Phrases in Complex Sentences
Here is how to use prepositional phrases in complex sentences:
"Although she was tired, she continued to work on the project with her team."
Prepositional phrase: "on the project"
"After he finished his chores, he went to bed."
Prepositional phrase: "to bed"
"Despite the rain, they continued to play soccer in the park."
Prepositional phrase: "in the park"
"Before the movie starts, we will have dinner at the restaurant."
Prepositional phrase: "at the restaurant"
"Since he lost his job, he has been looking for a new one."
Prepositional phrase: “for a new one”
To identify a prepositional phrase, look for the preposition and its object. Common prepositions include "in," "on," "at," "with," "from," "to," "about," and "for." It's important to distinguish prepositional phrases from other types of phrases such as noun phrases and verb phrases. In complex sentences, prepositional phrases can be more difficult to identify, but they can still be found within independent and dependent clauses.
Now that you know how prepositional phrases work, it's time to practice! Try finding them in different sentences or check out more handy references below!