Prepositional Phrase- Rules And Examples

Last Updated on February 15, 2024.

When we combine prepositions with objects, we are creating prepositional phrases.

A preposition is a word or a group of words that is used to connect information.

And specifically, prepositions are connecting objects (nouns or pronouns) to other words in order to describe that. Particularly, prepositions generally describe space or location, or time.

Let’s look at some common prepositions:

Prepositions that show Space Prepositions that show Time Some other Prepositions
above after as
against before like
below by of
beneath during
inside in
next to past
on since
over throughout
past until
under within

This GED lesson is provided by Onsego GED Prep

Of course, we know quite a few prepositions that are showing both space and time. You don’t need to memorize all of these prepositions but it is key that you get familiar with them in order to use them in a correct way and to vary your style of writing.

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Additionally, some prepositions (like the ones listed in the category “Some other Prepositions,” are not fitting so easily in either the “space” category or the “time” category, yet they’re still prepositions.

Now, all of the prepositions listed in the table above are made up of one word. But there also many multiple-word prepositions for you to use as well. These are also providing more information about objects.

The following table is showing a few “multiple-word prepositions” and “prepositional phrases” that you may see. Bear in mind, though, that this list includes just a few of many examples.

Multiple-Word Prepositions

according to in addition to in spite of
as well as in back of on account of
because of in front of together with

For example:

Prepositions Objects Prepositional Phrases
in + the rain in the rain
above + the clouds above the clouds
during + the night during the night

A prepositional phrase helps make a description more vivid and it will be easier for a reader to “see” as s/he reads.

The following are some examples of how a prepositional phrase is descriptive and will be able to change the meaning of a sentence and what it is that the reader may visualize while reading.

Descriptive Prepositions

Sentence Prepositional Phrase Showing Space
The woman put the phone… on the front desk
under her beautiful hat
near her empty coffee cup
inside her leather purse
by her new laptop
Sentence Prepositional Phrase Showing Time
She purchased the tickets… before she had left work
after he called
during her lunch hour
at the very last minute
in the hard-pouring rain
Sentence Other Prepositional Phrases
The old man gave the boy a box… of rocks
as a gesture of his kindness
like it was almost on fire

How we use a Prepositional Phrase

People are using prepositional words and phrases when they tell stories or describe events. Without using a preposition, people would constantly be asking for further clarification.

Using prepositional phrases and words is important when you write because when using them, your readers can exactly understand what you’re meaning. A writer has to anticipate what about it is that his readers would like to know more. If you add prepositional words or phrases to your writing, your writing will become more descriptive and much clearer.

Here is an example:

As seen in the table above, a preposition can be clarifying or even changing the meaning of sentences. So let’s take a look at some examples of how we can use a prepositional phrase to make our sentences clearer and more descriptive.

“The guy was driving quickly”

This sentence is giving us an image of a man who drives fast, yet it’s not describing anything about the guy, what it was he was driving, or what he was heading for. This is a sentence that’s not containing a preposition.

Well, if we would revise it and include prepositional words or phrases, we’ll have a much sharper and clearer image:

The guy in the ambulance was driving quickly to the place of the accident.

Well, the prepositional phrases used here are including “in the ambulance”, “to the place”, and “of the accident”. So by adding a few prepositions to this sentence, we’ve made its meaning as to what happened, and about the man, far clearer and much more interesting. This now is exactly what adding prepositions are capable of doing in your writing!

I’ll give you some more examples. All of the following examples are revised to include at least two prepositional words or phrases which has made them far more descriptive.

John went home.

After work, John went home on his bike.

“After work” and “on his bike” are prepositional phrases that tell readers more about how and when John went home.

John took his bike.

In the evening, John took his bike to the supermarket for more strawberry ice cream.

“In the evening”, “to the supermarket”, for more strawberry ice cream” are all three prepositional phrases that tell us when, where, and also why John took his bike.

Gina was very angry.

Gina was very angry at John for taking his bike.
“At John” and “for taking his bike” are prepositional phrases that tell us at whom Gina was angry and why.