Prepositions are connectors. They link nouns (and pronouns) to verbs or adjectives. For example, “Matthew walked to the farmers’ market.” In addition to being connectors, prepositions can also act as information-givers when they form prepositional phrases.
An example of a prepositional phrase is, “With a reusable tote in hand, Matthew walked to the farmer’s market.” Every prepositional phrase is a series of words consisting of a preposition and its object.
In the example above, “with” is the preposition and “reusable tote” is the object. In a prepositional phrase, the object may be a noun, pronoun, gerund, or clause. A prepositional phrase can function as an adjective or adverb. Let’s explore several prepositional phrase examples to see them shift into each of these roles.
Commonly Used Prepositional Phrases
There are certain prepositions that we use more often than others. They pop up in our daily speech and writing. Let’s take a look at some of them in the context of prepositional phrases:
According to the weather forecast
Across many deserts
After many tries
Amid the confusion
Around the world
Before we start the meeting
Between a rock and a hard place
By the light of the moon
Like a beautiful swan
Near the ocean
Of my boss
Off the top
Out the door
Through the looking glass
Throughout the thick forest
To the amusement park
Prepositional Phrases as Adjectives Adjectives modify nouns, pronouns, and other adjectives. They can be simple words that provide more detail. For example, “The old book sounded so intriguing.” However, prepositional phrases can also act as adjectives, providing additional detail about nouns. Take a look at the manner in which they can tell us more about the nearby noun (indicated in italics):
The book with the tattered cover has been read many times.
All the passengers aboard the runaway train were frightened.
The present inside the big box is mine.
Our boss put out a memo regarding the new rule.
The clues within the first few chapters will lead to the murderer.
His is only one voice among many, but it will be heard.
The extra blanket is in the box under the bed.
Saul, unlike many others, will remain there.
The car beside the red one is the one I want to buy.
The area outside the boundary is dangerous to cross.
All rooms below deck are for sleeping.
Tell me the story about the dragon slayer.
Prepositional Phrases as Adverbs While adjectives modify nouns, adverbs modify verbs and other adverbs. They, too, can be simple words. For example, “She frantically raced for the door.” Prepositional phrases can also act as adverbs, providing additional detail about verbs (indicated in italics). Here are some examples:
Racing toward the finish line, Sarah realized she just might win.
My shopping list needs to be put into my purse.
The balloon drifted up the stairs.
Put the fresh flowers on a high shelf.
Our team won against all odds.
The tiger crept over the grass.
We will order pizza during halftime.
I will climb up the highest mountain tomorrow.
I love to take my truck off the road.
The baby cried well into the night.
Powerful Prepositional Phrases Prepositional phrases are built upon tiny little words like “of,” “at,” “to,” and “in.” And, yet, they take on so many roles. They provide us with more information, act as adjectives, and stand in as adverbs.