A prepositional phrase is a group of words with a
preposition at the beginning and a noun or pronoun at the end.
The noun or pronoun at the end of the phrase is called the object of
the preposition. The object of the preposition answers the question what?
or whom? in relation to the preposition. To locate the object of the preposition,
read the preposition and then ask "what?" or "whom?"
Note that many prepositions show time or place or direction. Some word
groups are considered a single preposition. Note also that to plus the
simple present (base) form of a verb is an infinitive rather than a prepositional
phrase (for example, to walk and to run are infinitives).
Some Commonly Used Prepositions
||as long as
||as much as
||as well as
|| because of
||in addition to
||in spite of
|| instead of
|| up to
To Find Prepositional Phrases
Ask "what?" or "whom?"
Restate the preposition with the answer to the question
Preposition Question Answer:
Prepositional Phrase for "or what?" for dinner
in "In what?" in the afternoon
by "By what?" by building a house
with "With whom?" with Harold and his brother
Purposes of Prepositional Phrases
To tell when: before dawn, during the day, in the Medieval period
To tell where: beneath the table, under the rug
To tell why: for joy, because of his allergy, in order to discover the
To tell how or in what way: by bending the edges, by machine, in attitude,
with strength and endurance
In the sentences below, the prepositional phrases are enclosed in brackets.
Harold McGruber lived [in Mrs. Smith's house.]
[After dark], the cat [in
the alley] prowls [throughout the neighborhood].
[For many years] we lived [in
a small but cozy apartment] [near the river].
[During lunch], Mr. Smith quit his job [because
of an argument] that he had [with his boss].
[Until morning] the vampires who reside [in
my garden] remain silent; however [at dawn]
they moan and beg [for me] to remove the garlic
[from the row].
August 4, 2003