What is a prepositional phrase?
Prepositional phrases can modify verbs, nouns, adjectives, and adverbs to provide additional information about actions, people, and things. For example, they can tell us when, where, or how something happens.
Prepositional phrases often act as adjectives or adverbs, but they can also act as nouns.
Adjective prepositional phrase
Adverbial prepositional phrase
Prepositional phrases used as nouns
Prepositional phrases can also act as subject complements following the linking verb “be.”
Introductory prepositional phrase
Prepositional phrases can sometimes be used at the beginning of the sentence as an introductory phrase.
If the prepositional phrase is longer than four words or consists of multiple prepositions, follow it with a comma. If the prepositional phrase is short—just two or three words—the comma is optional; you can include it if you prefer or if it aids clarity.
Prepositional phrases list
There are over 100 prepositions with a wide range of meanings. They can be combined with nouns and modifiers to form an almost limitless number of prepositional phrases. Here are some examples of common prepositions, meanings, and phrases.
|Location—where someone or something is located
|The book is in the drawer.
The book is on the shelf.
The book is at my house.
The book is under the desk.
The book is over there.
The book is next to the laptop.
|Direction—the movement of someone or something
|We went to Turkey.
The rat ran toward the hole.
He punched through a wall.
|Time—when something is happening
|We’ll meet at 5 o’clock.
We’ll meet in the morning.
We’ll meet on Thursday.
We’ll meet after work.
We’ll meet before dinner.
|Manner—how something is done
|She acted with decorum.
She acted without thinking.
|Instrument—what something is done with
|She made the sculpture with recycled materials.
They constructed the building without nails.
|Purpose, reason, or cause—why something is done, what something is for, or what caused something
|He gave me money for gas.
They closed due to bankruptcy.
They closed because of bankruptcy.
I was surprised by her words.
|Agent—who or what something is done by
|Bleak House was written by Charles Dickens.
|Possession or relationship—the ownership of something or the connection between two things
|The Queen of England replied to my letter.
The wall of the barn collapsed.
The curtains with the floral pattern are pretty.
|Source—where something comes from
|I bought you some chocolate from Switzerland.
Frequently asked questions about prepositional phrase
Is “of” a prepositional phrase?
“Of” is a preposition that can be combined with nouns and modifiers to form prepositional phrases. It can express a range of meanings, including the following:
- Possession or relationship: “the wheel of my car.”
- Origin: “people of ancient Mesopotamia.”
- Material, contents, or construction: “a shard of glass.”
- About or relating to: “I told him of my travels.”
Is “with” a prepositional phrase?
“With” is a preposition that can be combined with nouns and modifiers to form prepositional phrases. It has a few meanings, including the following:
- Who an action is performed with: “I went to the cinema with my brother.”
- A combination of items: “they served tea with milk.”
- What is used to carry out an action: “I wrote the letter with a fountain pen.”
- How something is done: “They danced with skill and grace.”
Is “on” a prepositional phrase?
“On” is a preposition that can be combined with nouns and modifiers to form prepositional phrases. It has a range of meanings, including the following:
- Place: “Dinner is on the table.”
- Time: “My birthday is on Friday.”
What is an example of a prepositional phrase?
There are over 100 prepositions (e.g., “in,” “on,” “with”) that can be combined with nouns and modifiers to form an almost countless number of prepositional phrases. They can act as adjectives, adverbs, and nouns and have many uses. For example, they can tell us when, where, how, or why something is done.
Here are some examples of prepositional phrases:
- The party is on Tuesday.
- The laundry is in the washing machine.
- I can write with a quill.
- The cup of water fell to the ground.
What’s the difference between infinitives and prepositional phrases?
For example, in “I want to take her to the cinema,” “to take” is an infinitive and “to the cinema” is a prepositional phrase.