Parts of Speech
Prepositions: Good Things Come in Small Packages
Prepositions are the mighty mites of grammar and writing, small but powerful little puppies. Prepositions are words that link a noun or a pronoun to another word in the sentence.
Use this list to help you recognize some of the most common prepositions:
You Could Look It Up
Prepositions are words that link a noun or a pronoun to another word in the sentence.
A noun always follows a preposition. A prepositional phrase is a preposition and its object. A prepositional phrase can be two or three words long, as these examples show:
However, prepositional phrases can be much longer, depending on the length of the preposition and number of words that describe the object of the preposition. Here are two super-size prepositional phrases:
- near the violently swaying oak trees
- on account of his nearly depleted bank account
Joined at the Hip
Circle the preposition or prepositions in each sentence. Then write the noun or noun phrase that follows it. (Hint: Look for the noun markers a, an, and the.)
You are slower than a herd of turtles stampeding through peanut butter.
A pat on the back is only a few centimeters from a kick in the butt.
He wants the magic fingers vibrating bed regardless of the cost.
Of course he will help himself to the biggest portion; he's a piggy.
If it wasn't for the last minute, nothing would get done.
|of, through|| peanut butter, turtles|
|on, from, in ||the back, a kick, the butt|
|to ||the biggest portion|
|for ||the last minute|
A Note on Prepositions for Non-Native Speakers
Using prepositions correctly presents special problems for people whose first language is not English. That's because so many prepositional phrases are idiomatic: They have evolved through use and do not necessarily make logical sense. Here are some guidelines:
Use in before seasons of the year. Also use in with months and years not followed by specific dates.
- in the summer
- in January
- in 2003
Use on before days of the week, holidays, and months, if the date follows.
- on Wednesday
- on Thanksgiving
- on July 20
Like is a preposition that means “similar to.” Therefore, it is followed by an object (usually a noun or pronoun).
Use the preposition of to show possession.
Following is a list of idiomatic prepositional phrases and examples. Always use these prepositional phrases as units; don't substitute other prepositions.
- The preposition of is often used to show possession instead of the possessive form of a pronoun.
- I hear a puppy's bark.
- I hear the bark of a puppy.
- Never use the preposition of with proper nouns.
- Incorrect: I wore the dress of Nina.
- Correct: I wore Nina's dress.
|Prepositional Phrases ||Examples|
|acquainted with ||Nico is acquainted with my cousin Raul.|
|addicted to ||I am addicted to coffee.|
|agree on (a plan) ||They finally agreed on a plan.|
|agree to (someone else's proposal) ||Did Betty agree to their demands? |
|angry at or about (a thing) ||The commuters are angry about the fare hike.|
|angry with (a person) ||They are angry with the mayor.|
|apply for (a job) ||Apply for a job.|
|approve of ||Did she approve of the vacation plan?|
|consist of ||The casserole consists of squirrel and noodles.|
|contrast with ||The red shirt contrasts with the pink pants.|
|convenient for ||Is Monday convenient for you?|
|deal with ||How do you deal with that awful child?|
|depend on ||Everything depends on the bus schedule.|
|differ from (something) ||The airplane differs from the train.|
|differ with (a person) ||I differ with your argument.|
|displeased with ||Nina is displeased with the plan.|
|fond of ||We are all fond of Mrs. Marco.|
|grateful for (something) ||The child was grateful for a snow day.|
|grateful to (someone) ||We are grateful to the doctor.|
|identical with ||This cake is identical with hers.|
|interested in ||Chris is interested in martial arts.|
|interfere with ||Homework can interfere with your social life.|
|object to ||We object to the income tax hike.|
|protect against ||An umbrella protects against rain.|
|reason with ||You can't reason with a two-year-old.|
|responsible for ||I am responsible for bringing the salad.|
|shocked at ||We are shocked at your hair color!|
|similar to ||It is similar to a rainbow.|
|specialize in ||The hairdresser must specialize in humor.|
|take advantage of ||They surely take advantage of kids!|
|worry about ||I worry about you.|
Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Grammar and Style © 2003 by Laurie E. Rozakis, Ph.D.. All rights reserved including the right
of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by
arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group
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