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Prepositional Phrases

What is a Prepositional Phrase?

Prepositional phrases are groups of words containing prepositions. Remember that prepositions are words that indicate the relationships between various elements within a sentence, and you'll never have difficulty identifying prepositional phrases.

A prepositional phrase is a group of words that lacks either a verb or a subject, and that functions as a unified part of speech. It normally consists of a preposition and a noun or a preposition and a pronoun.

Remember the following rules for prepositional phrases and you will find that using them becomes much easier.

  • Prepositional phrases always consist of two basic parts at minimum: the object and the preposition.
  • In formal English, prepositions are almost always followed by objects.
  • Adjectives can be placed between the prepositions and objects in prepositional phrases.
  • Prepositional phrases can act as adverbs or adjectives. When they are used as adjectives, they modify nouns and pronouns in the same way single-word adjectives do.
  • When prepositional phrases are used as adverbs, they at the same way single-word adverbs and adverb clauses do, modifying adjectives, verbs, and other adverbs.

Just like bread and cheese are the minimum ingredients for making a cheese sandwich, a preposition and the object of a preposition are the minimum requirements for forming a prepositional phrase. The object of a preposition is the name for the noun or pronoun following the preposition.

Prepositional phrases don't have to be plain. Just as adding more ingredients to a sandwich dresses it up, adding more words such as adverbs or adjectives is a good method for spicing up prepositional phrases. As you read the following examples of prepositional phrases, you'll notice that the first sentence in each set contains a basic prepositional phrase, while the second one contains a more interesting one.

Examples of Prepositional Phrases

The following sentences contain examples of prepositional phrases; the prepositional phrase in each sentence is italicized for easy identification.

The cupcake with sprinkles is yours.

The cupcake with colorful sprinkles is yours.


We climbed up the hill.

We climbed up the very steep hill.


The rabbits hopped through the garden.

The rabbits hopped through the perfectly manicured garden.