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Mrs. Donna Garner -- English I

February 24, 1998

1. Definition of preposition: A preposition is a word that shows a relationship between its object and some other word in the sentence. Every preposition must have an object to complete the phrase. The object will be either a noun or a pronoun. If there is no object, then the word in question is not a preposition.

2. Memorize these prepositions:


as of


from among

owing to



in addition to

on account of



in front of





out of








prior to



in back of




in regard to



but (except)

in place of

subsequent to



instead of


as for

because of

in spite of



by means of



ahead of



together with


consisting of

next to






aside from




according to

due to



as to




away from

except for



apart from


outside of


because of








3. A prepositional phrase is the entire unit consisting of the preposition, its object, and any modifiers. A prepositional phrase begins with the preposition and ends with its object or objects. If you can find the beginning of a phrase, there will be no trouble in finding the object. The only way to find the beginning of the phrase is to memorize the preposition list so that you can recognize where the phrase begins. The list contains key words which will tell you to be watching for a prepositional phrase.

4. Prepositional phrases can appear anywhere in a sentence--at the very beginning, in the middle, or at the end. A word cannot be a preposition unless it has a noun or pronoun to be its object.

5. Look for a glob which fits together. A glob is a little unit of words which seems to cling together. See if the very first word in the glob is in the list of prepositions. Then see if the last word in the glob is a noun or pronoun. If both tests apply, then you do have a prepositional phrase.

6. The purpose of being able to recognize prepositional phrases is so that you can strip them from the sentence. They are used in a sentence to add information but aren't important enough to be in the basic skeleton of the sentence. Once you can strip the prepositional phrases away, then you can find the skeleton of the sentence. Learn to put brackets around prepositional phrases either in your mind or with a pencil. A subject and a verb will never be found within a prepositional phrase; therefore, it is always permissible to throw out prepositional phrases without throwing out anything really important such as a subject, a verb, a direct object, an indirect object, a predicate noun, a predicate pronoun, or a predicate adjective.

7. Just as you had to learn the difference between candy and meat when you were younger, you have to learn to recognize prepositions by just memorizing the list. You memorized the candies and meats; you have to memorize which words are prepositions.

8. Do Worksheet #1. Put brackets around the prepositional phrases in the following paragraph.


The trip took us to interesting places. One trip of great interest was Grand Canyon in Arizona. This canyon of the Colorado River attracts visitors from everywhere. Every visitor to the canyon is impressed by its size and beauty. It has a depth of one mile and a width of twelve miles. The formations of this canyon form some of the finest geological exhibits in the world. We look at these wonders with reverence and awe. Beyond the advent of the White man, the Indians had legends about this canyon. Many traces of ancient Indian life are found in this region. The first systematic exploration of the canyon was made by John Wesley Powell. It has been visited by many exploring parties, but parts of it have not been explored. The exploration of the unknown regions is carried on by the National Park Service. All tourists are thrilled by the great beauty of Grand Canyon. It appeals to young and old, and no one grows tired of its beauty. Various trips are provided to tourists, and there are guides for these trips.

9. Many of the words in the preposition list can also be used as adverbs. The problem for you is to figure out when a word from the list is being used as an adverb or as a preposition. When in doubt, ask the questions whom or what after the word. If there is a noun or a pronoun to answer the question, then the word is a preposition with an object--a prepositional phrase. If there is not a noun or pronoun to answer whom or what, then the word you are worried about is an adverb.

Example: The girl looked over and then ran down the street.

Both the words "over" and "down" are on the preposition list. Say the word "over" and add "over what?" There is no what or whom word after "over." Now say "down what?" -- "down the street." There is a noun "street" which tells what after the word "down." Therefore, "down" must be a preposition with the prepositional phrase being "down the street."

10. Do Worksheet #2 by putting brackets around the prepositional phrases.


1. Come on; let's go in.

2. He walked across the deck and then went below.

3. Can you turn the car around? (When you have a question in English, you need to get in the habit of turning it around in order to make a statement such as, "You can turn the car around." This puts the sentence in its natural order of the subject first and then the verb next.)

4. Jose drove past at noon; I haven't seen him since.

5. Besides, you are not within your rights.

6. Zachariah was flashing his lantern about in the valley below us.

7. Maria crawled along, but she was near collapse.

8. No sound came from the house; I walked off.

9. The eagle swooped down and perched on a gatepost.

10. Hang the picture up, or stand it behind the screen.


11. There is a small problem with the word "to." "To" can be either a preposition or a part of an element called an infinitive. An infinitive is a type of verbal. There are three kinds of verbals -- gerunds, participles, and infinitives. Verbals are a strange breed because they are a combination of several parts of speech. You have probably heard of the minotaur in Greek mythology; it was a fictitious monster with the head of a bull and the body of a man. Verbals are like monotaurs--they are divided into several parts. Read the following:


GERUNDS (always end in "ing")





PARTICIPLES (come from either 3rd or 4th col.)





INFINITIVES (Infinitives will never end in ing. Most of the time the word "to" will be present.)









Examples: 1. Her desire to study is commendable. (to study -- used as part verb and part adjective)

2. To work hard remains his task. (noun)

3. He wanted to mail the letters early. (direct object)

4. To show good taste is important. (subject)

5. Ping went to buy a paper. (adverb)

12. To tell whether you have a preposition or an infinitive when you have the word "to," you will need to look at the word to the right of "to." If the next word to the right seems to be in the same glob and is a noun or pronoun telling whom or what, then you have a prepositional phrase.

Example: To laugh is to enjoy life.

Look to the right of "to" -- you see the word "laugh." "Laugh" shows action and is a verb. Therefore, you have an infinitive "to laugh." The word "laugh" is not a noun or pronoun. Look at "to enjoy." The word to the right of "to" is "enjoy." "Enjoy" is a verb and not a noun or pronoun. Therefore, "to enjoy" is also an infinitive and not a prepositional phrase. Now let's see an example that has a prepositional phrase in it.

Example: This report should be given to the students.

Look to the right of "to." You have the word "students." "Students" answers the question whom. Therefore, "students" is a noun; and you have a prepositional phrase "to the students." The key to telling whether the word "to" is a preposition or a part of an infinitive is to look at the word to the right of "to."

13. One other small problem that you might run into is with the following sentence:

Example: The farmer laid by his crops for the year.

Look at the word "laid by." In this sentence the verb "laid" seems to take with it the word "by" as part of its meaning. The expression is "laid by." Therefore, the word "by" seems to stick more closely to "laid" than with "by his crops." The question is whether the word "by" is a preposition or is more closely associated with "crops." Read the sentence the way you normally would read it. Do you say, "The farmer laid by his crops," or do you say, "The farmer laid (pause) by his crops." The word "crops" actually receives the action of the farmer -- he laid by what -- "crops." Therefore, "crops" is a direct object and is not the object of the preposition "by." Some teachers will say that "by" is an adverb telling where, and other teachers (including myself) will call an example such as "laid by" a phrasal verb. Either way the word "by" is not a preposition.

14. Do Worksheet # 3. Put brackets around the prepositional phrases in Worksheet #3.


1. Rain-soaked newspapers had blown against the old iron fence.

2. In regard to the letter, the man gladly admitted his mistake.

3. Juliana laid down the homework.

4. Between Gilbert and me, this is not the perfect example.

5. People passing by turned around to watch the scene on the porch.

6. No sound came from the house; I walked off.

7. This report should be given over to the students who need it.

8. Students like you often have nervous energy.

9. Often students like you because of your cheer.

10. Why don't people like her?

11. Ten of them were running about wildly over the lawn.

15. PUNCTUATION RULE: When you have a prepositional phrase at the beginning of the sentence (called an introductory prepositional phrase) and the phrase has 5 or more words in it, then be sure to put a comma after it.

Example: In regard to the subject, you need to study harder.

16. PUNCTUATION RULE: In the title of books, plays, movies, TV programs, etc., be sure to capitalize infinitives but not short prepositions which have 5 or fewer letters in them.

Example: The Woman To Study

Island of the Blue Dolphins

The Love Within the Heart

Notice the word "to" is capitalized in the first example. The word "to" is part of an infinitive and must be capitalized in a title. The second example gives the word "of" as a short preposition -- not capitalized unless the preposition has 6 or more letters in it. The third example shows the word "within" as being capitalized because it is a preposition which has 6 or more letters in it.

17. PUNCTUATION RULES: While we are on the subject of titles, let's learn the following rules:

A. Capitalize the first and last words in a title.

B. Do not capitalize the words a, an, the, and, or short prepositions of 5

or fewer letters.

C. Underline the names of books; put quotation marks around short stories, chapter titles, and poems. There are three ways to indicate underlining -- italics (in printed material), all caps, or underlining. All three of these methods indicate underlined titles.

18. Do Worksheet # 4.


Write complete sentences which follow the prescribed elements. Put parentheses around each prescribed element and label the element:

1. A sentence which contains a title of a book and two introductory prepositional phrases ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

2. A sentence which contains the title of a television show, the name of a novel, and a prepositional phrase made up of two prepositions joined by the word "and" ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

3. A sentence which has a preposition that takes three objects and a title of a short story that has a prepositional phrase in it ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

4. A sentence which begins with an introductory phrase that has six words in it and a prepositional phrase that ends the sentence ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________