Prepositions
To understand this presentation, it would probably be helpful to
have worked through the verbs and nouns presentations first.
The bad news is that prepositions are the hardest part of speech to explain. The good news
is that for most people, they are one of the easier parts of speech to spot.
Prepositions do not have one simple definition though the one used most often is to say
that prepositions are words that establish a relationship of position with a noun or pronoun. The
easiest way to imagine that definition is to place an apple in your hand while sitting at a table.
The positions of the apple in relation to the noun, “table” are all prepositions.
For example, the following highlighted words are prepositions
on the table
above the table
along the table
by the table
over the table
beneath the table
onto the table
beyond the table
near the table
in the table
beside the table
at the table
under the table
against the table
behind the table
upon the table
If you were a magician, perhaps you could put the apple through the table or into the table
or even within the table; if you were a pitcher you could throw the apple across the table or past
the table or even move the apple around the table. If you were a waiter, you could bring the
apple to the table or carry it from the table or just leave it between you and the table.
Most people, with a little practice, can understand that aspect of prepositions.
Unfortunately, that explanation does not cover all of prepositions. However, we will
start there and do some practice with them just as a means of making prepositions
more familiar to you. Read the following sentence and the information below.
Gara brought her famous guacamole dip to the party.
“brought” is the verb and it is an action verb.
“Gara” “dip” and “party” are nouns of the sentence.
“to” is a preposition
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This time you see if you can spot the preposition(s) in the sentence.
At the time they lacked the necessary resources.
At the time they lacked the necessary resources.
“lacked” is the action verb of the sentence.
“time,” “they,” and “resources” are the nouns or pronouns working as nouns
in the sentence.
“at” is the only preposition in the sentence.
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Identify any prepositions in the following sentence.
Ella sat in the unpopular restaurant by herself.
Ella sat in the unpopular restaurant by herself.
The verb of the sentence is “sat,” an action verb.
“Ella,” “restaurant,” and “herself” are all the nouns or pronouns working as
nouns.
“in” and “by” are both prepositions.
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Identify any prepositions in the following sentence.
Inside the stadium Alex sat near her friend under the scoreboard.
Inside the stadium Alex was near her friend under the scoreboard.
The verb of the sentence is “was,” and it is a linking verb.
The nouns of the sentence are “stadium,” Alex,” “friend,” and “scoreboard.”
“inside,” “near” and “under” are all prepositions.
As you can readily observe, prepositions are always linked with nouns or
pronouns; for example in the sentence above “inside the stadium,” “near her friend,”
and “under the scoreboard.” These groups of words are called prepositional phrases,
and in order to have a preposition in a sentence, it must be in a prepositional phrase.
The first word of any prepositional phrase is, surprise, a preposition. The last
word in a prepositional phrase is always a noun or pronoun working as a noun. Inside
prepositional phrases you may have adjectives, articles, (a, an, the) and maybe an
adverb. However, you won’t have a verb.
Identify the prepositions and prepositional phrases of the following sentence.
Unfortunately, Sabrina drove past the campsite along the river.
Unfortunately, Sabrina drove past the campsite along the river.
The verb “drove” is always an action verb.
The nouns are “Sabrina,” “campsite,” and “river.”
The prepositional phrases were “past the campsite” and “along the river”
with the prepositions being the first words of each phrase – “past” and
“along.”
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Find the prepositions and prepositional phrases of the following sentence.
Jeff and Audra with their VIP passes walked onto the field.
Jeff and Audra with their VIP passes walked onto the field.
The verb “walked” is always an action verb.
The nouns are “Jeff,” “Audra,” “passes,” and “field.”
The prepositional phrases are “with their VIP passes,” and “onto the field”
with “with” and “onto” the two prepositions.
Identify the prepositions and prepositional phrases of the following sentence.
After class Scott went into the cafeteria for some lunch.
After class Scott went into the cafeteria for some lunch.
The verb “went” is always an action verb.
The nouns are “class,” “Scott,” “cafeteria,” and “lunch.”
The prepositional phrases are: “after class,” “into the cafeteria,”
“for some lunch” with the first words of each phrase being
the prepositions – “after,” “into,” and “for.”
If you recognized all of the phrases, terrific. If you did not, don’t be too hard on
yourself because two of the three prepositions had not appeared before in this
presentation – “after” and “for” and neither really works with the apple and table
trick discussed way back in slide 2.
Some preposition do not provide a spatial relationship where one noun or
pronoun is described in reference to another as we saw earlier. However, the
prepositions still provide some context, some reference, sometimes with time. For
example
during the rehearsal
after you
before the game
That’s not all. Prepositions are also capable of being more than one word. For
example
in spite of the flak
far from my intent
by means of caravan
in lieu of money
according to the reports
except for this
together with the mule drivers
on behalf of all ice cream lovers
You can check other sources on the web for lists of prepositions. Google
“prepositions” and see what you find or check out prepositions in Wikipedia. The list
is just too long to memorize, and so the best way to become familiar with them is to
work at them and with them. Here is some practice to help you.
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Find the prepositional phrases and prepositions in the following sentence.
Because of her head start Shantelle easily finished it before the deadline.
Because of her head start Shantelle easily finished it before the deadline.
The verb “finished” is always an action verb.
The nouns or pronouns working as nouns are “start,” “Shantelle,” “it,” and
“deadline.”
The prepositional phrases are “because of her head start,” “before the
deadline” with “because of” and “before” as the prepositions.
Find the prepositional phrases and prepositions in the following sentence.
Over brunch Adam presented the idea to her.
Over brunch Adam presented the idea to her.
The verb is “presented.” which is always an action verb.
The nouns or pronouns working as nouns are “bunch,” “Adam,” “idea,” and
“her.”
The prepositional phrases are “over brunch” and “to her” with “over” and
“to” working as prepositions.
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Find the prepositional phrases and prepositions in the following sentence.
Dan and Gayle in spite of the delays finished the project ahead of schedule.
Dan and Gayle in spite of the delays finished the project ahead of schedule.
The verb is “finished,” which is always an action verb.
The nouns are “Dan,” “Gayle,” “delays,” “project,” and “schedule.”
The prepositional phrases are “in spite of the delays” and “of schedule” with
“in spite of” and “of” working as subjects.
Find the prepositional phrases and prepositions in the following sentence.
Within the support of the group Karissa felt better than ever.
Within the support of the group Karissa felt better than ever.
The verb is “felt,” which here works as a linking verb.
The nouns are “support,” “group,” and “Karissa.”
The prepositional phrases are “within the support” and “of the group”
with “within” and “of” working as prepositions.
Find the prepositional phrases and prepositions in the following sentence.
Did Walter know about the missing cash from the safe?
Did Walter know about the missing cash from the safe?
The verb is “did know” which is always an action verb.
The nouns are “Walter,” “cash,” and “safe.”
The prepositional phrases are “about the missing cash” and “from the safe”
with “about” and “from “ working as prepositions.
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Look at the difference between sentence A and sentence B. Then decide where
the preposition and prepositional phrases might be.
A. Louis went inside.
B. Louis went inside his house.
A. Louis went inside.
B. Louis went inside his house.
Only sentence B has a preposition.
The verb is “went,” which is always an action verb.
The noun in sentence A is “Louis.” In sentence B, the nouns are “Louis” and
“house.”
The only prepositional phrase is in sentence B with “inside” being the
preposition.
Remember, a preposition must have a prepositional phrase if it is to work as a
preposition in the sentence. If it looks like a preposition but lacks a noun or pronoun
working as a noun to go with it to make a prepositional phrase, the word is a probably
an adverb, not a preposition.
The word “inside” in sentence A is an adverb.
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Find the prepositional phrases and prepositions in the following sentence.
Later Matt reached his hand outside beside the gargoyle’s nose.
Later Matt reached his hand outside beside the gargoyle’s nose.
The verb is “reached,” which is always an action verb.
The nouns are “Matt,” “hand,” and “nose.”
The single prepositional phrase is “beside the gargoyle’s nose” with
“beside” being the preposition.
In this sentence, the word “outside” works as an adverb because there
is no noun to create a prepositional phrase.
Find the prepositional phrases and prepositions in the following sentence.
During the war Agnes worked in the munitions plant nearby.
During the war Agnes worked in the munitions plant nearby.
The verb “worked” is always an action verb.
The nouns are “war,” “Agnes,” and “plant.”
The prepositional phrases are “during the war” and “in the munitions plant”
with “during” and “in” working as prepositions.
“Nearby” is an adverb in this sentence because it lacks a noun for a
prepositional phrase. The adverb “nearby” tells you where Agnes
worked.
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Find the prepositional phrases and prepositions in the following sentence.
Each of the friends divided the work among themselves.
Each of the friends divided the work among themselves.
The verb of the sentence is “divided,” which is always an action verb.
The nouns or pronouns working as nouns of the sentence are “Each,” “friends,”
“work,” and “themselves.”
The prepositional phrases are “of the friends” and “among themselves” with “of”
and “among” working as prepositions.
One of the truths of grammar is that it is better to understand how a word is used rather
than memorize what part of speech it is since a word can change its part of speech depending
upon its context in a sentence. As you just saw, prepositions can sometimes be prepositions
and sometimes adverbs. Here are some other words that usually cause some confusion.
to
like
past
to – can be part of the root of the infinitive of a verb as well as a preposition
but – can be a conjunction or a preposition
like – can be a verb or a preposition
past – can be a noun or a preposition
Find the prepositional phrases and prepositions in the following sentence.
In the past Jeremy walked past the haunted house without looking.
In the past Jeremy walked past the haunted house without looking.
The verb of the sentence is “walked,” which is always an action verb.
The first “past” is a noun as are “Jeremy,” “house,” and “looking.”
The prepositional phrases are “in the past” “past the haunted house,” and
“without looking” with “in,” “past” (the second one), and “without” all
working as prepositions.
Why isn’t “looking” a verb? Remember no verb that ends in ”ing” works as
a
verb unless it has a helper verb, such as “is looking” or “might be
looking” or “was looking.” All of the helper verbs will come from “to
be.”
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Find any prepositional phrases in the following sentence.
Like her brother Mimi liked the ice cream store by the river.
Like her brother Mimi liked the ice cream store by the river.
The verb of the sentence is “liked” which is always an action verb.
The nouns are “brother,” “Mimi,” “store,” and “river.”
The prepositional phrases are “like her brother” and “by the river” with
“like” and “by” working as prepositions.
The following examples are to help you understand the two ways “to” can be
used. The infinitive or root of the verb is made in the following manner.
He wants to go to the concert.
“to go” is being used a the root of the verb or infinitive. Infinitives
are easy to spot because they always have a verb following
them, such as “to believe,” “to cook,” “to contemplate,” “to
review,” “to enjoy,” ”to sing,” etc.
“to the store” is a prepositional phrase with “to” working as a
preposition.
Find any prepositional phrases in the following sentence.
Tomas shipped the package to me yesterday.
Tomas shipped the package to me yesterday.
The verb of the sentence is “shipped,” which is always an action verb.
The nouns are “Tomas” “package” and “me.”
The prepositional phrase is “to me” with “to” being the preposition.
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Find any prepositional phrases in the following sentence.
Due to the weather the game was postponed for a another day.
Due to the weather the umpire postponed the game for a another day.
The verb of the sentence is “postponed,” which is always an action verb.
“weather,” “umpire,” “game,” and “day” are all working as nouns.
“due to the weather” and “for another day” are both prepositional phrases
with “due to” and “for” working as prepositions.
The archaeologist dived down into the cenote to explore the caves.
The archaeologist dived down into the cenote to explore the caves.
The verb of the sentence is “dived,” which is always an action verb.
“archaeologist,” “cenote,” and “caves” are the nouns.
The only prepositional phrase is “into the cenote”
“down” lacks a noun for a prepositional phrase and therefore is as an
adverb.
Last one
Their team against all odds won the championship for the second straight
year.
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Congratulations – you made it!
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Grammar Practice #6 (Prepositions)