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Prepositional Phrases: What are they and how to use them (with examples)

Prepositional Phrases: What are they and how to use them (with examples)

Just like prepositions, prepositional phrases are the perfect antidote to dull stories that make your eyelids heavy.

More than just colouring your story with vivid details that make it exciting, prepositional phrases also make your writing smooth and easy to read. In this article, we'll take a closer look at the different roles of prepositional phrases.

What are Prepositional Phrases

Prepositional phrases are groups of words that consist of a preposition, its object, and any associated modifiers. They're used to provide more information about the relationship between other elements in a sentence.

For example, in the sentence ‘The cat is on the table’, ‘on the table’ is a prepositional phrase, where ‘on’ is the preposition, and ‘the table’ is the object of the preposition, showing the cat's location. 

Eg. She found her lost toy under the bed.
Eg. The dog chased the squirrel up the tree.
Eg. They had a picnic by the sparkling river.

Common prepositions like in, to, on, for, over, about, under, between, during, and with are often used to introduce prepositional phrases.

Prepositional Phrases that modify Nouns

Prepositional phrases that modify nouns are also known as adjectival prepositional phrases. They provide additional information about a noun in a sentence. These phrases typically describe or provide more details about the noun, making the sentence more descriptive. 

Eg. The book on the top shelf is my favorite.

In this example, the prepositional phrase ‘on the top shelf’ modifies the noun "book" by telling us more about where the book is located.

Eg. The boy in the blue jacket won the race.

In this sentence, the prepositional phrase ‘in the blue jacket’ adds details about the noun "boy" by describing what he is wearing.

Eg. The pizza from the local pizzeria was delicious.

The prepositional phrase ‘from the local pizzeria’ modifies the noun ‘pizza’ by telling us where the pizza came from.

Prepositional Phrases that modify Verbs

Prepositional phrases that modify verbs are known as adverbial prepositional phrases. These phrases provide more information about the action of the verb, typically answering questions like how, when, where, or why the action took place.

Eg. He ran through the forest.

In this example, the adverbial prepositional phrase ‘through the forest’ modifies the verb ‘ran’ by describing where the running took place.

Eg. They sang with great enthusiasm.

Here, the prepositional phrase ‘with great enthusiasm’ modifies the verb ‘sang’ by explaining how they sang.

Eg. She studies in the library.

The adverbial prepositional phrase ‘in the library’ tells us where the studying occurs, modifying the verb ‘studies’.

Prepositional Phrases that act like Nouns

Once in a while, you’ll come across prepositional phrases that play the role of nouns in a sentence.

Eg. In the morning is my favorite time of day.

Here, the prepositional phrase 'In the morning' serves as the subject of the sentence, acting like a noun.

Eg. Her dream is to travel around the world.

The prepositional phrase 'around the world' serves as a complement, acting as a noun describing her dream.

Eg. During the movie is the best time for popcorn.

In this example, the prepositional phrase 'During the movie' acts as the subject, serving as a noun.

Using Prepositional Phrases wisely

Prepositions and prepositional phrases add colours and texture to a story. That’s great! However, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Too many prepositional phrases can make sentences long and difficult to follow.

Therefore, if you wish to keep your writing clear and easy to understand, you need to use prepositional phrases wisely. Simply speaking, using fewer prepositional phrases helps your writing be shorter, easier to read, and better at getting your message across.

Common Prepositional Phrases examples

  • In the kitchen
  • Under the bed
  • On the table
  • Beside the river
  • Across the street
  • Between the trees
  • With a smile
  • During the summer
  • At the park
  • Behind the door
  • For my friend
  • In the morning
  • In the classroom
  • With a book
  • On the wall
  • By the beach
  • To the store
  • From the mountain
  • Through the forest
  • Over the rainbow

FAQs about Prepositional Phrases

What is a prepositional phrase?

A prepositional phrase is a group of words that includes a preposition, its object, and any modifiers. It provides additional information about location, time, direction, or other relationships within a sentence.

What are common prepositions used in prepositional phrases?

Common prepositions include 'in', 'on', 'at', 'under', 'over', 'with', 'between', 'beside', and 'among', among others.

How do prepositional phrases function in sentences?

Prepositional phrases can act as adjectives, modifying nouns, or as adverbs, modifying verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. They provide context and details to sentences.

Can a sentence have multiple prepositional phrases?

Yes, a sentence can contain multiple prepositional phrases. They can be used to convey various details and relationships within a sentence.

How can I avoid using excessive prepositional phrases in my writing?

To avoid excessive prepositional phrases, revise and edit your work, use strong verbs, choose specific nouns and adjectives, vary sentence structure, and aim for brevity while maintaining clarity. Reading your work aloud and seeking feedback from others can also help improve your writing.

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