What is a Prepositional Phrase?

Before discussing what a prepositional phrase is, let’s examine the two words preposition and phrase. A preposition is a connecting word that links a noun or pronoun to another part of the sentence. A phrase is a group of words that does not contain a subject or a predicate. It cannot stand alone since it does not convey a complete thought.

Having briefed that, we will detail here,

1. Definition of Prepositional Phrase with Examples

2. Function of a Prepositional Phrase

3. Subject-Verb Agreement with Prepositional Phrases

Definition of Prepositional Phrase

A prepositional phrase is a phrase that contains a preposition. In most cases, a prepositional phrase begins with a preposition and ends with a noun, pronoun, phrase or clause.

Generally, the words that follow the preposition are known as the object of the preposition. Thus, it can be said that a preposition is divided into two parts: the preposition and the object.What is a Prepositional Phrase Ex:

from what you said (preposition + clause)

to the boy across the road  (preposition + noun phrase)

at school (preposition + noun)

with her (preposition + pronoun)

As mentioned above, the object of the preposition is typically a noun, pronoun, phrase or a clause and it will often have one or more modifiers. For example,

with utmost respect

with= preposition, utmost=modifier, respect=noun

from her old boyfriend

from= preposition; her, old = modifier; boyfriend= noun

at the central park

at= preposition; the, central= modifier; park = noun

Function of a Prepositional Phrase

Prepositional phrases can be used as adjectives and adverbs in a sentence.

As an adjective, prepositional phrases can describe, identify or rename the noun.

The vegetables in the red basket have discolored.

(Prepositional phrase describes the noun vegetables)

I read the message from your sister.

(Prepositional phrase describes the noun message)

The book on the kitchen counter belongs to my grandmother.

(Prepositional phrase describes the noun book)

As adjectives, prepositional phrases modify verbs. They describe when, where and how something happened.

He lives in Colombo.

(The prepositional phrase acts as an adverb of place.)

She handled the volatile issue with utmost care.

(The prepositional phrase acts as an adverb of manner.)

He remained silent for thirteen years.

(The prepositional phrase acts as an adverb of time.)

What is a Prepositional Phrase - 2

Food on the table

Examples of Prepositional Phrases

  1. I was angry with him.
  2. ­Before the war, he worked in a furniture factory.
  3. Someone has stolen one of the documents.
  4. He has used my image without my consent.
  5. The dog under the table belongs to my uncle.
  6. The governess looked after her charges with great care.
  7. He forgot to deliver the message to Annie.
  8. Mary is tired from the walk.
  1. with him.
  2. Before the war,
  3. of the documents.
  4. without my consent.
  5. under the table
  6. with great care
  7. to Annie.
  8. from the walk.

Subject-Verb Agreement with Prepositional Phrases

When a prepositional phrase precedes a verb, the noun in the prepositional phrase may seem to be the subject of the verb. But, the nouns in prepositional phrases can never be the subject of a sentence. For example,

A combination of styles was used for the performance.

Although styles is the closest to the verb, combination is the real subject of the sentence. Therefore, the verb should agree with combination, not styles.

One of them was my brother.

The box of books was under her bed.

Jared, along with his friends, sings in the choir. 


  • Prepositional phrases begin with a preposition and end with a noun, pronoun, phrase or clause.
  • Prepositional phrases have two parts: preposition and objects.
  • Prepositional phrases can function as adjectives and adverbs.
  • Prepositional phrases are not used as subjects of a sentence.

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About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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