Prepositional Phrases - Explore the Meaning, Definition, Usage, and Examples

In the English language, prepositional phrases are used in order to modify nouns or verbs. According to the part of speech they modify, they are categorised into different types. This article will provide you with the meaning, definition, usage and examples of prepositional phrases. Also, try out the practice questions to check how well you have understood the topic.

Table of Contents

What is a Prepositional Phrase?

A prepositional phrase is a combination of a preposition, a modifier and its object. A prepositional phrase can be placed in the beginning, middle or end of a sentence based on its role in that particular sentence. Prepositional phrases are just a part of the sentence it modifies and cannot stand alone.

Definition of a Prepositional Phrase

The Collins Dictionary defines a prepositional phrase as “a structure consisting of a preposition and its object. Examples are on the table and by the sea.”

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a prepositional phrase is “a phrase that begins with a preposition and ends in a noun, pronoun, or noun phrase.”

Another definition of a prepositional phrase is given by the Macmillan Dictionary. According to it, a prepositional phrase “consists of a preposition followed by a noun group, pronoun, or ‘-ing’ form. A prepositional phrase is often an adjunct in a clause, for example in the sentences ‘I called about your advert’, and ‘I learned a lot from reading crime fiction’, ‘about your advert’ and ‘from reading crime fiction’ are prepositional phrases.”

How to Use Prepositional Phrases in Sentences?

As discussed earlier, prepositional phrases can be employed in the beginning, middle and end of a sentence according to what word or part of speech they are modifying. There are a few points you have to keep in mind when using prepositional phrases. They are:

  • Each sentence would require a different preposition to form a prepositional phrase.
  • Remember that using a wrong preposition can alter the meaning of the sentence completely and sometimes make no meaning at all.
  • If the prepositional phrase modifies a noun, it functions like an adjective and is therefore considered as an adjectival phrase.
  • Sometimes, a prepositional phrase is seen to modify the verb or action in the sentence and is considered as an adverbial phrase as it plays the role of an adverb in the sentence.

Examples of Prepositional Phrases

Let us now take a look at some examples of prepositional phrases to understand how they can be used in sentences.

Using Prepositional Phrases in the Beginning of the Sentence

  • After trying multiple times, Haritha finally cleared the equation.
  • Before we start class, I would like to talk to you about something.
  • According to the weather forecast, the next two days are expected to be very sultry.

Using Prepositional Phrases in the Middle of the Sentence

  • The girl in the second row is the one who has recently joined.
  • The cafe on the fourth street has really good muffins.
  • The man with the big moustache had come to the store today morning.

Using Prepositional Phrases in the End of the Sentence

  • The box was kept under the table.
  • We were planning to order food during the break.
  • I went to the grocery store across the street.

Test Your Understanding of Prepositional Phrases

Identify the prepositional phrases in the following sentences and mention if they are adjectival phrases or adverbial phrases.

1. He gave up without trying.

2. The boy in the white t-shirt is my cousin.

3. The little girl jumped with excitement when she saw the new bicycle her father bought her.

4. The book in the last shelf is the one I read last week.

5. At the end of the event, Mrs. Smitha thanked everyone for making time and being there.

6. The apartment on the left has just been vacated.

7. During the pandemic, many people lost their jobs.

8. The seat near the window is mine.

9. From there, we went to the vintage car museum.

10. Jerry, unlike many others, likes to read historical books.

Check your answers to find out how far you have understood the concept of prepositional phrases.

1. He gave up without trying.- Adverbial phrase

2. The boy in the white t-shirt is my cousin. – Adjectival phrase

3. The little girl jumped with excitement when she saw the new bicycle her father bought her. – Adverbial phrase

4. The book in the last shelf is the one I read last week. – Adjectival phrase

5. At the end of the event, Mrs. Smitha thanked everyone for making time and being there. – Adverbial phrase

6. The apartment on the left has just been vacated. – Adjectival phrase

7. During the pandemic, many people lost their jobs. – Adverbial phrase

8. The seat near the window is mine. – Adjectival phrase

9. From there, we went to the vintage car museum.- Adverbial phrase

10. Jerry, unlike many others, likes to read historical books. – Adjectival phrase

Frequently Asked Questions on Prepositional Phrases in English

What is a prepositional phrase?

A prepositional phrase is a combination of a preposition, a modifier and its object. A prepositional phrase can be placed in the beginning, middle or end of a sentence based on its role in that particular sentence. Prepositional phrases are just a part of the sentence it modifies and cannot stand alone.

What is the definition of a prepositional phrase?

The Collins Dictionary defines a prepositional phrase as “a structure consisting of a preposition and its object. Examples are on the table and by the sea.” According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a prepositional phrase is “a phrase that begins with a preposition and ends in a noun, pronoun, or noun phrase.” Another definition of a prepositional phrase is given by the Macmillan Dictionary. According to it, a prepositional phrase “consists of a preposition followed by a noun group, pronoun, or ‘-ing’ form. A prepositional phrase is often an adjunct in a clause, for example in the sentences ‘I called about your advert’, and ‘I learned a lot from reading crime fiction’, ‘about your advert’ and ‘from reading crime fiction’ are prepositional phrases.”

Give some examples of prepositional phrases.

Given below are some sentences to show you how prepositional phrases can be used in sentences.

  1. The box was kept under the table.
  2. We were planning to order food during the break.
  3. The girl in the second row is the one who has recently joined.
  4. Before we start class, I would like to talk to you about something.
  5. According to the weather forecast, the next two days are expected to be very sultry.
  6. The cafe on the fourth street has really good muffins.
  7. The man with the big moustache had come to the store today morning.

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