Prepositions Location and Time
Prepositions are often not regarded as important parts of speech, but they truly are vital. Prepositions are words that start prepositional phrases, which usually tell where something is located, or where something is happening. As such, its vital that you are able to identify and use prepositions correctly in your speaking and writing.
Whats A Preposition?
A preposition is a connecting word, like to, on, for and in. They connect or modify other parts of the sentence. Often, prepositional phrases pull double duty as adverbial phrases as well. Heres an example of a prepositional phrase:
Bob ran through the house.
The word through is a preposition and the prepositional phrase is through the house. It works as an adverbial phrase as well, because it tells where Bob ran (adverbs answer the questions which, what, when, where and how).
Here is another example of a preposition at work:
Judy liked to dunk her cookies in milk.
In this sentence, the preposition is in and the phrase in milk tells us where Judy likes to dunk her cookies.
The Job of Prepositions
Prepositions have several jobs in sentences. In all roles, they modify or complement, helping to add further depth and clarity to your sentence. Prepositions can modify verbs and nouns, but they can also complement verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs and even other prepositions. Here is an example of a preposition complementing an adverb:
William placed his plate separately from the others.
In this sentence, separately is an adverb, modifying the verb placed. The prepositional phrase, from the others modifies that adverb and clarifies it, telling us that he placed it away from other plates. Heres an example of a prepositional phrase complementing a noun:
The Senate is contemplating an amendment to the bill.
In this sentence, the word amendment is a noun; the prepositional phrase to the bill complements it and brings further meaning. It could just as easily read, The Senate is contemplating an amendment, but the addition of the prepositional phrase offers more information for the reader (or listener).
The Most Commonly Used Prepositions
There are many words that serve as prepositions, but some are used more frequently in the English language than are others. Here are some of the most common words to look for in a sentence:
When you see these words used in a sentence, you will know that youre seeing the introduction of a prepositional phrase. The preposition is always the first word of the phrase, followed by other words that modify the verb, noun, adjective, adverb or preposition in question.
Prepositional Phrase Placement in Sentences
The most common place to find a prepositional phrase is at the end of a sentence. Heres an example:
Jonathon drive his car through the fence.
However, they can also appear in the middle of a sentence, or even at the beginning. Heres an example of a prepositional phrase at the start of a sentence:
Beneath her bed, Gina found a marble and some string.
The prepositional phrase here is beneath her bed, and doubles as an adverbial phrase as well as being a prepositional phrase.
As you can see, prepositions are important parts of speech and can help you add clarity and detail to your writing or speaking.