Prepositional Phrases in English Grammar In English grammar,
Prepositional Phrases in English Grammar In English grammar, a prepositional phrase is a group of words made up of a preposition (such as to, with, or across), its object (a noun or pronoun), and any of the object’s modifiers (an article and/or an adjective). It is only a portion of a sentence and cannot stand on its own as a complete thought. Prepositional phrases often tell where something happened, when it happened, or help define a specific person or thing. Because of these functions, they’re often essential to understanding a sentence. Key Takeaways: Prepositional Phrases
Prepositional phrases are groups of words starting with a preposition. Prepositional phrases often function as modifiers, describing nouns and verbs. Phrases can’t stand alone. A prepositional phrase won’t contain the subject of a sentence. Types of Prepositional Phrases Prepositional phrases can modify nouns, verbs, phrases, and complete clauses. Prepositional phrases can also be embedded inside other prepositional phrases.
Modifying Nouns: Adjectival Phrases When a phrase modifies a noun or pronoun, it’s called an adjectival phrase. These types of phrases often specify a person or thing (what kind, whose). In context, they clarify a distinction between several possibilities. For example: Sheila is the runner with the fastest time. It’s likely there are other runners who are slower, as the sentence is specifying who is the fastest. The phrase is modifying (describing) the noun runner. Adjectival phrases come directly after the noun they modify.
The boy with the tall woman is her son. The phrase with the tall woman is specifying a certain boy; it’s an adjectival phrase. There could be other boys, but the one with the tall woman is the one that’s being described. The boy is a noun phrase, so the prepositional phrase is an adjective. If we want to make the boy even more specific, we’d further qualify it with an embedded phrase. The boy with the tall woman and the dog is her son.
Presumably, there are multiple boys with tall women, so the sentence is specifying that this boy is with a tall woman who has a dog. Modifying Verbs: Adverbial Phrases Adverbs modify verbs, and sometimes the adverb is an entire adverbial phrase. These phrases often describe when, where, why, how, or two what extent something happened.
This course is the most difficult in the state. The prepositional phrase specifies where. There might be other courses that are more difficult in other states, but this one is the most difficult here. Let’s say it’s just one difficult course of several in the state, i.e., “This course is among the most difficult in the state.” The among phrase is an adjectival phrase modifying (describing) the course, and the final phrase remains adverbial, still telling where. She ran the marathon with pride on Saturday. The first prepositional phrase specifies how she ran (a verb), and the second specifies when. Both are adverbial phrases.