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Prepositions & Prepositional Phrases

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A preposition may be defined as connecting word showing the relation of a noun or a noun substitute to some other word in the sentence. Prepositions can be single or compound words. Prepositions cause problems because sometimes they can be used interchangeably. Prepositions are often combined with verbs to create phrasal verbs.

I have been standing on line for the past one hour.
I have been standing in line for the past one hour.

Prepositional Phrases

Since a preposition connects a subject to the rest of the sentence, it is often followed by either a noun or a pronoun. The group of words opening with a preposition and ending with a noun or pronoun is called a prepositional phrase. The object of the preposition is the noun or pronoun at the end of the phrase.

A prepositional phrase can be made up of any number of words, depending on the length of the sentence.

towards the mountain
away from the ocean
by the side of the cliff
in front of the bushes
on account of his gross negligence
around the bottom

Placement of Prepositions

Since a preposition connects a subject to the rest of the sentence, it should logically be followed by either a noun or a pronoun. Traditionally, grammar guides taught that it was incorrect to end a sentence with a preposition. Nevertheless, today the practice of ending sentences with prepositions is commonly accepted.

What did Karthik do that for?
Prabhu and Vamsi had many things to talk about.

A preposition normally comes before its object, but sometimes, especially in speech, the preposition comes after its object.

Preposition before the Object:
For a week, she couldn't get the horrible scene out of her mind.
In addition to his superb academic record, he was an outstanding athlete and humanitarian.

Preposition after the Object:
What do you want to do that for?
We know which chair you are behind!

Prepositional Phrases as Adverbs and Adjectives

Prepositional phrases can function as adverbs or adjectives. In this role, prepositional phrases add description and color to writing. In addition, prepositional phrases can function as nouns. The most efficient method of study is to familiarize yourself
with prepositions and prepositional phrases through practice and memorization. This is particularly helpful for the bilingual student, who often seems to find preposition usage one of the most difficult parts of English language.

Prepositional Phrase as Adverb:
He hammered rapidly underneath the overhang.
The children fly their new dragon kite in the wide-open field.

Prepositional Phrase as Adjective:
Melinda is the girl with the missing front tooth.
Living in a big city affords people the chance to take part in many cultural activities.

Prepositional Phrase as Noun:
Past the village hall is the closest supermarket.

Prepositions and Adverbs

To distinguish between prepositions and adverbs, remember that prepositions, unlike adverbs, can never function alone within a sentence. A preposition is always part of a prepositional phrase.

The children went into the house.

They went in.

Crowds of people were skiing down the icy slopes.

After the fifth book fell down, we decided it was time to rearrange the bookshelves.

Sample Usage

1)"He went to the store for milk and bread."
“He went to the store for buying milk and bread." This is wrong usage and a common mistake!

2)By doing it yourself, you save time.

3)“I like spaghetti with white sauce."

4)“Mrs. Vajiona went to Thassos Island with her husband Georgios."

5)Bill worked as a fireman until a year ago.

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