A prepositional phrase consists of a preposition, its object and any words that modify the object.
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Examples: The school children waited for the green light.
In this sentence, the preposition is for, its object is light, and the modifier, or adjective, is green.
The entire preposition phrase modifies the verb waited.
Sometimes two or more nouns or pronouns are used as objects in a prepositional phrase.
Example: He needs a worker with diligence and a good character.
The preposition with have two objects: diligence and character.
Identify the prepositional phrase in each of the following sentences.
Underline the preposition once and its objects twice.
- Donkeys help people in many ways.
- They bring happiness to the people around them.
- In large cities, they help to carry water.
- On farms, they carry heavy loads.
- How could you travel across a river? 6. You might swim to the other side.
- You might cross at a shallow place.
- You can cross by boat.
- Bridges are a better solution to the problem.
- Most bridges are built over water.
Types of prepositional phrases
Prepositional phrases can either be:
(i) Adjective prepositional phrases – these prepositional phrases, just like adjectives, modify nouns and pronouns.
Example: A scout leader wears a uniform with many badges.
In this sentence, with many badges is an adjective prepositional phrase modifying the noun uniform.
(ii) Adverb prepositional phrases – these ones, just like adverbs, modify verbs, adjectives or other adverbs.
Scouts rain for many hours.
The adverb prepositional phrase for many hours modifies the verb train.
They are active in all public functions.
The adverb prepositional phrase in all public functions modifies the adjective active.
The scout leader commands forcefully with a loud voice.
The adverb prepositional phrase with a loud voice modifies the adverb forcefully.
We have seen that the object of a preposition is the noun or pronoun that follows the preposition.
When the object of the preposition is a pronoun, we use an object pronoun like me, you, him, her, it, us, and them.
(And not a subject pronoun like I, he, she, we, and they).
Correct: I gave a present to her.
Incorrect: I gave a present to she.
Correct: I gave a present to Jane and her.
Incorrect: I gave a present to Jane and she.
Choose the pronoun in brackets that correctly completes each of the following sentences.
- The dog chased after Travis and (her, she).
- Cleaning the house was a tasking job for Evans and (I, me).
- We planned a family picture of our parents and (us, we).
- The victory belonged to (he, him).
- Michael and Bernard stood behind Mom and (she, her).
- The crowd around (we, us) started cheering.
- My little sister ran behind Sammy and (I, me).
- The toys belong to Karen and (him, he).
- Johnny sat between James and (me, I).
- I went to the cat race with Jim and (she, her).
Sometimes one prepositional phrase immediately follows another.
The thief entered the house through the door on the right.
(Through the door modifies the verb entered and tells where. On the left modifies the noun door and tells which one.
A prepositional phrase can be at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of a sentence.
Examples: BEGINNING: At dusk we closed the shop.
MIDDLE: The chief of the area was helpful.
END: The path went through the village.
Preposition or Adverb?
Sometimes the same word can be used as either a preposition or an adverb.
How can you tell the difference between the two?
PREPOSITION: He has a box inside the house.
ADVERB: They ran inside.
You can tell the difference by remembering the following:
(i) A preposition never stands alone.
It is always followed by its object, a noun or a pronoun.
The helicopter flew past the airport. (preposition)
The aircraft was parked inside the hangar. (preposition)
(ii) An adverb is never followed by a noun or a pronoun, may be by an adverb.
The helicopter flew past. (adverb).
The aircraft was parked inside. (adverb) The helicopter flew past noisily (adverb).
Therefore, if a word begins a prepositional phrase, it is a preposition.
If it stands alone or is followed by an adverb, it is an adverb.
Some words that can be used either as prepositions or adverbs.
Above down over
Along in out
Around inside outside
Below near under
By off up
Indicate after each of the following sentences if it has a preposition or an adverb.
- Jack stood outside the shop.
- He was curious and went inside.
- He saw strange things in every corner.
- An old coat and several sweaters lay over a chair.
- Blue and green umbrellas stood above the fire place.
- He looked up suddenly.
- He sat down heavily.
- Then he lifted the curtain and peeped outside.
- A jogger ran by
- Jack ran out.
Negatives are words that mean “no” or “not”.
These words are adverbs.
She has no more work.
There are none left.
Other common negatives
Not, nowhere, nobody, aren’t, haven’t
Never, nothing, no one, doesn’t, wouldn’t
The combination of a verb and not also form a contraction which is also a negative.
The letters n’t stand for not.
They won’t be able to attend the funeral.
He couldn’t make a speech.
A sentence should have only one negative.
Using double negatives in a sentence is usually incorrect.
A double negative is the use of two negative words together when only one is needed.
Incorrect: We don’t need no more problems.
Correct: We don’t need any more problems.
Incorrect: She hasn’t bought nothing.
Correct: She hasn’t bought anything.
Incorrect: Mark hasn’t no homework.
Correct: Mark hasn’t any homework.
Or Mark has no homework.
When you use contractions like don’t and hasn’t, do not use negative words after them.
Instead, use words like any, anything, and ever.
We don’t have any work.
He hasn’t any work.
I won’t ever respond to the summons.
Other negatives include hardly, barely, and scarcely.
They are never used after contractions like haven’t and didn’t.
Incorrect: We couldn’t hardly continue with the work.
Correct: We could hardly continue with the work.
Correct: The child can’t barely walk.
Incorrect: The child can barely walk.
Write the following sentences choosing the correct negatives from the ones given in brackets.
- They (have, haven’t) nothing to eat.
- Isn’t (anyone, no one) at home? 3. Didn’t you (ever, never) swim in that river?
- There isn’t (anybody, nobody) weeding the farm.
- Ann and Martin haven’t (anywhere, nowhere) to sleep.
- Our friends (had, hadn’t) none of the fun.
- Isn’t (anybody, nobody) watching Take High?
- Hasn’t (anyone, no one) thought of washing the utensils?
- Tabby (hasn’t, has) had no luck.
- We haven’t (ever, never) tried.
Answers on Prepositions
- On – where
- For – purpose
- With – use
- In – place
- From – place
- for 2. In 3. Down 4. By
- In ways
- To people
- In cities
- On farms
- Across river
- To side
- At place
- By boat
- To problem
- Over water
- Her 6. Us
- Me 7. Me
- Us 8. Him
- Her 9. Me
- Us 10. Her
- Outside – preposition 6. Up – adverb
- Inside – adverb 7. Down – adverb
- In – preposition 8. Outside – adverb
- Over – preposition 9. By – adverb
- Above – preposition 10. Out – adverb
- Have 4. Anybody 7. Anybody 10. Ever
- Anyone 5. Anywhere 8. Anyone
- Ever 6. Had 9. Has