Prepositions and Conjunctions for English Grammar (page 2)
Practice exercises for this study guide can be found at:
A preposition is a word that conveys a meaning of position, direction, time, or other abstraction. It serves to relate its object to another sentence element.
A prepositional phrase consists of a preposition, its object, and any modifiers of the object. In the prepositional phrase by the greatest German musician, the preposition is by, the object is musician, and the modifiers of the object are the greatest German.
Prepositional phrases are used to modify verbs, nouns, pronouns, and adjectives:
Relating to Verbs
- She found the sleeping child in her room. (Where did she find the sleeping child? In her room.)
- They stored their files under the table. (Where did they store their files? Under the table.)
Relating to Nouns and Pronouns
- She felt the hatred of the entire family. (Whose hatred? The hatred of the entire family.)
- I want anything by that author. (What do I want by that author? Anything.)
Relating to Adjectives
- She was young in heart. (Young in what sense? Young in heart.)
- The book was considered profane in intent. (In what sense profane? Profane in intent.)
The nine most commonly used prepositions are: at, by, for, from, in, of, on, to, and with. There are many more, and you will shortly be given a list of other frequently used prepositions.
Commonly Used Prepositions
The following list identifies those prepositions most commonly encountered; it is by no means complete. Among the words listed here are the nine prepositions that were given previously. In addition to the single words that constitute most of the entries in this list, there are some phrases that function as prepositions: in back of, in addition to, etc.
With each entry in the list, two phrases are supplied to illustrate use of the prepositions.
aboard aboard the ship, aboard the airplane
about about town, about people
above above all, above my head
according to according to the newspapers, according to custom
across across the way, across our front yard
after after a while, after meals
against against public opinion, against the wall
ahead of ahead of the crowd, ahead of his time
along along the street, along the route
alongside alongside the caravan, alongside the prison
amid amid our preparations, amid our activity
amidst amidst all my activity, amidst the local people
among among other things, among the crowd
apart from apart from my own feelings, apart from the expense involved
around around the corner, around her waist
as far as as far as Washington, as far as the train depot
aside from aside from his published writings, aside from my own thoughts
as to as to the point you raised, as to the performance itself
at at no point, at the final moment
back of back of the bus, back of the objection
because of because of his poverty, because of our complete apathy
before before dinner, before leaving
behind behind his smile, behind closed doors
behind in behind in the rent, behind in his payments
below below the roof, below the living room
beneath beneath my standards, beneath respect
beside beside a garden wall, beside herself
besides besides the dean himself, besides the immediate family
between between you and me, between July and September
beyond beyond my ken, beyond the mountains
but but me, but a handful of people
by by the same writer, by tomorrow
concerning concerning taste, concerning her obstinacy
contrary to contrary to my advice, contrary to the Constitution
despite despite all our best efforts, despite his lateness
down down the stairs, down the street
due to due to lack of sleep, due to habitual absences
during during his tenure, during the Bush years
except except me, except my brother
for for your own safety, for the sake of God
from from nowhere, from the western sky
in in back, in expectation
in addition to in addition to her efforts, in addition to AIDS
in back of in back of the house, in back of her mind
in front of in front of it, in front of the store
in lieu of in lieu of loving care, in lieu of a full-time chairman
in light of in light of her accomplishments, in light of the child's age
in place of in place of the flowers, in place of the current exhibit
in regard to in regard to your letter, in regard to her request
inside inside his head, inside the vault
in spite of in spite of his mother's request, in spite of his good intentions
instead of instead of the marines, instead of going home
into into a deep depression, into the French quarter
in view of in view of her prejudices, in view of your demands
like like a bee, like an angel
near near the old house, near despair
of of pioneer stock, of great reputation
off off the roof, off his outstanding debt
on on my account, on occasion
on account of on account of the delay, on account of the inconvenience
on board on board the ocean liner, on board the Orient Express
onto onto the platform, onto her shoulders
out out the door, out the window
out of out of sight and out of mind, out of the hall
over over your head, over the party
owing to owing to your anxiety, owing to his eagerness
past past the school yard, past my comprehension
per per second, per minute
round round the barnyard, round my head
since since her death, since the turn of the century
through through my thoughts, through the gate
throughout throughout her life, throughout the night
till till death, till today
to to no purpose, to New York
toward toward better understanding, toward late afternoon
towards towards New York, towards the north
under under two flags, under suspicion
until until morning, until death
unto unto each other, unto ourselves
up up the staircase, up the wall
upon upon well-founded suspicions, upon further thought
up to up to now, up to the limit of his ability
via via the Alcan Highway, via Route 66
with with care, with no friends
within within his hearing, within the time
without without arms, without assistance
Object of Preposition
The object of a preposition is always in the objective case.
- He gave the book to me. (The object of the preposition to is the pronoun me, which is in the objective case.)
- Whom did you give the book to? (Whom is the object of the preposition to and is in the objective case.)
Despite the tendency of many speakers and writers to use who when whom is preferred, as in the second sample sentence, anyone interested in good grammar should use whom as the objective form of the pronoun who.
Differentiating Prepositions from Other Parts of Speech
Many prepositions, such as after, but, for, and since, are also used as adverbs, adjectives, or conjunctions. The way to differentiate the various uses of these words is to examine the roles they play in a sentence.
Consider the following sentences:
- The ducks were in a row, one after another. (preposition)
- Do not follow after him. (preposition)
- Have you inquired after her? (preposition)
- After dinner we were treated to cups of superb coffee. (preposition)
- She was named after her aunt. (preposition)
- Jill came after. (adverb)
- They lived happily ever after. (adverb)
- The after years often are terrible. (adjective)
- After I find the place I want, I shall buy it and settle down. (conjunction)
In the above examples, after, when used as an adverb or an adjective, directly modifies a word or words: came after, lived after, after years. In the sentence in which after is used as a conjunction, it is followed by a clause: After I find the place I want. When used as a preposition, after introduces a prepositional phrase: after another, after him, after her, after dinner, after her aunt.
Prepositional Phrases as Modifiers
Prepositional phrases function as adverbs or adjectives. Consider the following sentences:
- We decided at the last minute. (adverb modifying decided)
- They come from Puerto Rico. (adverb modifying come)
- Most government officials speak with caution. (adverb modifying speak)
- The family vacationed in Saratoga Springs. (adverb modifying vacationed)
- People of quality do not gossip all the time. (adjective modifying People)
- The family in mourning wore black clothing. (adjective modifying family)
- The hero as anti-hero characterizes American detective fiction. (adjective modifying hero)
- Training in martial arts has never lost its popularity. (adjective modifying Training)
Conjunctions connect words, phrases, or clauses. They are classified as coordinating or subordinating. Subordinating conjunctions join only clauses. Coordinating conjunctions join words, phrases, and clauses:
- He and I, She or I (coordinating conjunctions joining words)
- The chair in the living room and the one in the den; the red car or the blue car (coordinating conjunctions joining phrases)
- She has been nominated, but I hope she will withdraw. (coordinating conjunction joining clauses)
- There still is time to get to the game, for we have fifteen minutes. (coordinating conjunction joining clauses)
The most common coordinating conjunctions are and, but, for, nor, or, so, and yet. (So and yet sometimes act as subordinating conjunctions.)
Other conjunctions classified as coordinating are the so-called correlatives, which occur in pairs: either… or, neither…nor, not only...but, not only...but also, and both...and:
- Either you leave at once or I shall call the police.
- Neither Jane nor Alice deserves to be considered for promotion.
- Not only has the nation suffered domestically, but our reputation abroad is poor.
- Not only does she write maudlin novels, but she also writes bathetic poetry.
- Both coffee and tea were drunk to excess.
As can be seen, coordinating conjunctions are used to connect sentence elements that have equivalent value.
Subordinating conjunctions connect sentence elements—clauses—of less than equal value. The most common subordinating conjunctions are after, although, as, as if, as long as, because, before, how, if, in order that, since, so, so that, though, till, unless, until, when, where, wherever, while, why, and yet. The relative pronouns that, what, which, and who also act as subordinating conjunctions.
The following sentences show some uses of subordinating conjunctions:
- I will take care of her after the doctor has gone.
- I cannot take all the blame, although I will accept partial responsibility.
- They arrived in our town before the others did.
- They have been studying Latin since they entered second grade.
- There comes a time when all bills must be paid.
- Richard sat in the library while Jon was out on the playing field.
Practice exercises for this study guide can be found at:
- Kindergarten Sight Words List
- First Grade Sight Words List
- 10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism
- Grammar Lesson: Complete and Simple Predicates
- Definitions of Social Studies
- Child Development Theories
- Signs Your Child Might Have Asperger's Syndrome
- How to Practice Preschool Letter and Name Writing
- Social Cognitive Theory
- Theories of Learning