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Prepositions Help

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Updated on Sep 1, 2011

Introduction to Prepositions

What's an OOP and where are they found? Find out in this lesson.

Like an adverb, a preposition conveys a relationship, usually of time (when) or place (where), between certain words in a sentence. A prepositional phrase is a small group of words that begins with a preposition and ends with a noun or pronoun. The noun or pronoun at the end of the phrase is called the object of the preposition (OOP).

Examples:

across town

beyond the realm of understanding

under the guise of reality

upon your approval

according to the polls

Common Prepositions

Distinguishing between Prepositions and Adverbs

How can you tell if a word is a preposition and not an adverb? If the word begins a prepositional phrase (one always begins with a preposition)! If it does not, it is an adverb. In the following sentence, before is an adverb because it does not begin a phrase; it stands by itself and is not followed by a noun.

    I have never seen that person before.

But in the following sentence, before is a preposition because it is followed by a noun, creating a prepositional phrase.

    She stood before the judge to make her plea.

Tip: Although a prepositional phrase contains a noun, that noun can never be the subject of the sentence. Prove it: Circle the prepositional phrases in the previous sentence. Whatever noun is left outside the circles is your subject.

Tip: Sometimes you may come across sentences that end with prepositions. Some are grammatically correct, but others are not. You can figure out if the sentence is correct or not by rewording it using the same words. If it makes sense, it is fine. But if it does not, it is grammatically incorrect.

Example:

Crime is something I worry about.

Reworded:

Something I worry about is crime. (Grammatically correct)

Example:

It is a problem I need help with.

Reworded:

A problem I need help with is it. (Grammatically incorrect)

Remedy:

It is a problem with which I need help.

Sometimes it is awkward to reword a sentence that ends with a preposition.

Example:

Indicate which person you are talking about.

Becomes:

Indicate about which person you are talking.

Example:

She brought her brushes to paint with.

Becomes:

She brought her brushes with which to paint.

You may have heard or been taught that a sentence should never end in a preposition. But in modern English, this rule has been relaxed to avoid awkward constructions. Now, the tendency is to use your discretion in such a situation, and go with what feels right.

Tip: Prepositional phrases may end with double nouns or pronouns, forming compound OOPs. (I went to England and France with her and him.)

Exercises for this concept can be found at Prepositions Practice

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