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The Parts of Speech: Prepositions and Their Phrases Griffin Technical College Learning Support Center Written by Cynthia L. Baynham
The Job of a Preposition
A List of Prepositions
Is it a Preposition: A Test Sentence
What is a Prepositional Phrase?
As tendons connect muscle to bone, prepositions connect their objects to another part of the sentence. We left after the movie . The flock of birds ate all the berries. Sue and Tim met in the moonlit garden
A short list of the most common prepositions can be found at http://www.abcteach.com/abclists/prepositions.htm Click on this link and print off the list of prepositions and begin memorizing them one column at a time. So how can you locate prepositional phrases? First you must memorize the most common prepositions, so you can recognize them when you see them .
Break the material down into bite-sized pieces. (With the list of prepositions, learn one column at a time.)
Expose yourself to the material in a variety of ways: read it, recite it, read it aloud, and write it.
Review what you have learned daily so you don’t forget it and have to relearn it.
If you are learning a concept or a rule, explain the material to yourself as if you are both student and teacher.
Some pre position s give a position in space or time: We left after the movie . Time – The phrase tells when we left. Sue and Tim met in the moonlit garden . Space – The phrase tells where they met.
Some, but not all prepositions will fit into this sentence: The plane flew _____________ the clouds. The plane flew over the clouds. The plane flew under the clouds. The plane flew through the clouds. The plane flew above the clouds. However, some prepositions don’t fit in the sentence. The plane flew of the clouds. The plane flew except the clouds.
A prepositional phrase begins with a preposition and ends with the last object of the preposition, which can be a noun or a pronoun.
… with Tom… preposition object The preposition can have more than one object: … with Tom and me… preposition objects
The prepositional phrase also includes any modifiers that go with the object
A modifier for a noun is called an adjective. Adjectives answer the questions: Which kind? Which one? How Many? and Whose?
Preposition + Modifiers + Object(s) in the moonlit garden after the long, boring movie among the white fluffy clouds Remember, prepositional phrases begin with prepositions and end with the last object. You can’t find prepositional phrases unless you memorize your prepositions.
Why are prepositions and their phrases important? Read this paragraph from Ernest Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea with all of the prepositional phrases left in place: “ The sun rose thinly from the sea and the old man could see the other boats, low on the water and well in toward the shore, spread out across the current. Then the sun was brighter and the glare came on the water and then, as it rose clear, the flat sea sent it back at his eyes so that it hurt sharply and he rowed without looking into it. He looked down into the water and watched the lines that went straight down into the dark of the water. He kept them straighter than anyone did, so that at each level in the darkness of the stream there would be a bait waiting exactly where he wished it to be for any fish that swam there. Others let them drift with the current and sometimes they were at sixty fathoms when the fishermen thought they were at a hundred.” Now read it without the prepositional phrases: The sun rose thinly and the old man could see the other boats, low and well, spread out. Then the sun was brighter and the glare came and then as it rose clear, the flat sea sent it back so that it hurt sharply and he rowed. He looked down and watched the lines that went straight down. He kept them straighter than anyone did, so that there would be a bait waiting exactly where he wished it to be. Others let them drift and sometimes they were… when the fisherman thought they were…. Doesn’t the text lose much of its meaning without the prepositional phrases?
Danger : While prepositional phrases are very important to the meaning of the sentence, they can cause grammatical errors. Danger 1 : They can come between a subject and a verb. The problem occurs when the writer thinks the object of the preposition is the subject of the sentence. The object of the preposition can NEVER be the subject of the sentence! If you said paintings then you are right. Museum is the object of the preposition in . Because the subject, paintings , is plural, we must use the plural verb, are . . What is the subject of the following sentence and what verb agrees with it? Paintings in a museum (is/are) available for all to see.
Danger Two: Many times people will mistakenly use the subjective case pronoun as the object of a preposition. A pronoun that is the object of a preposition must be in the OBJECTIVE case. The objective case pronouns are me, us, you, him, her, it, them. This error most commonly occurs when the object of the preposition is compound. Wrong: The Galloways are going to the beach with Tom and I. Correct: The Galloways are going to the beach with Tom and me. We wouldn’t say, “The Galloways are going to the beach with I,” would we?
Tip: When you have a compound object, and you are trying to decide which pronoun to use, try eliminating the other part of the compounded object of the preposition. If you use pronouns as the single object of the preposition correctly, you should have no problems choosing the pronoun to use in the compound object. For example, Mike bought tickets for Zoe and (I/me) becomes Mike bought tickets for I, or Mike bought tickets for me. Clearly, the second choice, me , is the correct answer. This trick doesn’t work with the preposition between because, logically, between requires two objects. Always fall back on the rule: Pronoun objects of the preposition must be in the objective case.