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What Is a Prepositional Phrase? 20 Easy Examples

Posted by Hayley Milliman | Jan 22, 2020 9:00:00 AM

General Education

 

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In grammar, a "prepositional phrase" refers to a preposition, its object, and any modifiers. Here in this article, we’ll answer the basic questions people most often have about prepositional phrases, such as "What is a prepositional phrase?" and "How do I use a prepositional phrase?" We will also provide plenty of prepositional phrase examples for you to practice with.

 

What Is a Prepositional Phrase?

A prepositional phrase is a part of a sentence that consists of one preposition and the object it affects. The object of a prepositional phrase can be either a noun, gerund, or clause.

Here’s an example of a prepositional phrase (in italics):

She caught the bus on time.

"On time" is the prepositional phrase. It consists of a preposition ("on") and a noun ("time").

Here’s another example of a prepositional phrase at work:

Mark is going out with that beautiful woman.

In this example, the prepositional phrase is "with that beautiful woman." The preposition is "with," while the object it affects is "woman."

As shown in this example, prepositional phrases can govern more than one word—they can govern any words that modify or describe the object of the preposition, too.

Here’s a final example of a prepositional phrase:

Before going home, go to the bank.

The preposition in this prepositional phrase is "before." The word that it governs is "going," which is a gerund.

Remember that prepositional phrases can govern nouns, gerunds, or clauses.

 

Prepositional Phrase Examples: Modifying Nouns

There are a number of different types of prepositional phrases.

The first type of prepositional phrase modifies a noun. In that way, this type of prepositional phrase acts as an adjective and is therefore known as an adjectival phrase.

Here are some examples of prepositional phrases acting as adjectives:

That puppy at the park is so happy.

The prepositional phrase "at the park" acts adjectivally because it’s providing more information about the puppy.

I like to go grocery shopping at the Whole Foods behind my house.

Here, the prepositional phrase "behind my house" acts adjectivally because it modifies the noun "Whole Foods."

In both of these examples, the prepositional phrases give more information about the nouns to enhance our understanding.

 

Prepositional Phrase Examples: Modifying Verbs

Just as prepositional phrases can act as adjectives that modify nouns, they can also act as adverbs that modify verbs. Let’s look at some examples:

Jane cheered for her team with excitement.

The prepositional phrase "with excitement" acts adverbially because it provides more information about how Jane is cheering.

Here’s another example:

Mark looked behind his brother.

In this sentence, the prepositional phrase "behind his brother" gives us more information about exactly where Mark looked.

 

Prepositional Phrase Examples: Acting as Nouns

Prepositional phrases can act as nouns, too. Here’s an example:

During the commercials is the best time to go to the bathroom.

The prepositional phrase "during the commercials" acts as a noun and is in fact the subject of the sentence.

 

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Prepositional Phrase Examples: Different Types

Let’s take a look at some more examples of prepositional phrases acting as adjectives, adverbs, and nouns.

 

Prepositional Phrases Acting as Adjectives

The girl in the middle is the best dancer.

The grocery store across town has a great produce selection.

The park near the lake has an off-leash dog area.

The restaurant behind my house is loud.

The neighbors to my right have a lot of parties.

 

Prepositional Phrases Acting as Adverbs

She went to the store.

My dad took his boat to the lake.

My sister clapped for her team.

My brother ran to his girlfriend’s house.

 

Prepositional Phrases Acting as Nouns

Behind the school is a park.

After the movie is the perfect time to get dinner.

During the flight is a good time to catch up on work.

 

Common Words That Start Prepositional Phrases

If you’re looking to find the prepositional phrase in a sentence, keep an eye out for these words that often signify the start of prepositional phrases:

 

about

below

excepting

off

toward

above

beneath

for

on

under

across

beside

from

onto

underneath

after

between

in

out

until

against

beyond

in front of

outside

up

along

but

inside

over

upon

among

by

in spite of

past

up to

around

concerning

instead of

regarding

with

at

despite

into

since

within

because of

down

like

through

without

before

during

near

throughout

with regard to

behind

except

of

to

with respect to

 

 

Final Thoughts: What Is a Prepositional Phrase?

What's the prepositional phrase definition? A prepositional phrase is a part of a sentence consisting of a preposition and the word it governs. Prepositions in prepositional phrases can govern nouns, gerunds, or clauses.

There are three main types of prepositional phrases:

  • Those that act as nouns
  • Those that act as adverbs
  • Those that act as adjectives

Looking at prepositional phrase examples can help you keep each of them straight!

 

What’s Next?

Trying to brush up on your grammar to prepare for your AP English exam? We've got tons of resources for you! Start by reviewing our AP English exam guide and then check out the complete list of practice tests and books you should read for the essay portion of the test.

Looking for information about writing? Take a look at our guides on literary elements, sonnets, and similes vs metaphors.

Wondering about the role grammar plays on the SAT? Learn the most important SAT grammar rules and check out our complete prep guide to the SAT Writing section.

 

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Hayley Milliman
About the Author

Hayley Milliman is a former teacher turned writer who blogs about education, history, and technology. When she was a teacher, Hayley's students regularly scored in the 99th percentile thanks to her passion for making topics digestible and accessible. In addition to her work for PrepScholar, Hayley is the author of Museum Hack's Guide to History's Fiercest Females.



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