Everything About Prepositional Phrases

A prepositional phrase is a sentence that contains a preposition, an object, and any word which modifies the object. Usually, the function of the phrase is to modify a noun or a verb. There are two major types of prepositional phrases:

  1. Adverbial Phrases
  2. Adjectival Phrases

Adverbial phrases are groups of words which acts as an adverbial modifier in a sentence. Just like the way an adverb or adjective modifies a sentence, an adverbial phrase can do the same. An adverbial phrase contains an adverb and a word placed before or after it. It can be used to show how, when, why, and where of an event. Examples include:

  • Very carefully
  • Any time
  • As quickly as possible
  • Once upon a time.

Adjectival phrases, on the other hand, is a group of words which acts as an adjective. They usually qualify a noun or a pronoun in a sentence. Examples include:

  • Extremely angry
  • Very tired
  • Overly sensitive.

A prepositional phrase is usually made up of a preposition and the other word (the object) which it modifies. The word can be a noun or a gerund verb (that is a verb that ends in -ing). A prepositional phrase does not have a subject, except for the preposition and the object. They can act as adverbs, and as adjectives. When it acts as an adjective, it is usually followed by a noun or pronoun. When it acts as an adverb, it is followed by an adjective, a verb, or even other adverbs. This takes us back to the two basic kinds of prepositional phrases, an adverbial phrase, and an adjectival phrase.

Here are some more examples of a prepositional phrase acting as an adverb:

1. James drove his new car across the road.

The verb in this sentence is “rode”. The preposition is “across” and the adverbial phrase is “across the bridge.”

2. The congregation ran out of the church when the fire alarm rang out.

“Ran” is the verb being described. The preposition is “out”, and the adverb phrase is “out of the church.”

Here are some examples of a prepositional phrase acting as an adjective:

  • The man in the hat looks shady.
  • The boy under the rain looks homeless.

Prepositional phrases can also function as a noun, thereby being the subject of a sentence. Examples are these:

  • On an airplane is where I want to live.
  • During the performance, do not use your phone.

It can be tempting to use several prepositions, or prepositional phrases in your writing. However, you must keep it to the barest minimum at all times. Grammarly advises that if your writing has one proposition in every ten words, it shows that you need to edit them out. Your writing will appear more professional and elegant when you use lesser prepositions.

PointHere are a few common prepositional phrases and their meanings:

  1. In the end: Used to signify an ultimate end.
  2. At the end: Used to signify a time period.
  3. On time: Used to signify punctuality.
  4. In time: Used to show that a person on an object arrives before the given time.
  5. In common: Used to signify that two or more things share similar characteristics.
  6. In Love: Used to signify deep affection for someone or something.
  7. In touch: Used to show that people are still in constant communication.
  8. In fact: Used before a factual statement or truth.
  9. At once: Used to signify urgency.
  10. By force: Used to signify the use of physical force.
  11. In case: Used to suggest precaution.
  12. In vain: Used to show that the efforts of someone or something were not successful.


Prepositional Phrases

Related articles:

Word Order Rules in English

A Guide To Modifiers