What is a preposition? A preposition is a word or group of words that shows relationship of a noun or pronoun to some other word in the sentence. Prepositions add extra information to sentences such as direction, time and place.
Four Kinds of Prepositions
1. A Simple Preposition
A simply preposition is made up of one word, such as: by, for, in, at, with, on or of.
- David drove the car on the race track.
- Jonathan leaves for work at 8.00am everyday.
- Rachel brushes her hair with a special brush.
2. A Compound Preposition
A compound preposition consists of two words used as one, such as: into, without, before, inside, outside, upon, underneath or throughout.
- David drove the car into the shed.
- Jonathan leaves for work before dawn.
- Rachel brushes her hair throughout the day.
3. A Participial Preposition
A participial preposition is a present participle of certain verbs that function as a preposition, such as: during, regarding, barring, respecting or considering.
- David drove the car during the thunder storm.
- Jonathan works hard considering his age.
- Bec will travel overseas barring sickness.
4. A Phrasal Preposition
A phrasal preposition is a phrase that functions as a preposition, such as: according to, in spite of, with regard to, out of, round about or in reference to.
- David will drive his car in spite of his health.
- Jonathan arrives at work round about noon.
- Bradley won the game according to the rules.
Two Functions of the Prepositional Phrase
A preposition always has an object (noun or pronoun) and is called the object of the preposition.
- David drove the car into (preposition) the fence (object of preposition).
- Jonathan works late during the summer (object of preposition).
The preposition with its object becomes a prepositional phrase, which functions as either an adjective or an adverb.
1. Prepositional Phrases Functioning as An Adjective
If the prepositional phrase modifies a noun, then the phrase is functioning as an adjective.
- David will drive the car of the century. (of the century describes the car)
- The house with the new roof was repaired by Jonathan. (with the new roof describes the house)
2. Prepositional Phrases Functioning as An Adverb
If the prepositional phrase modifies a verb, then the phrase is functioning as an adverb.
- The boy ran through the field. (through the field modifies ran)
- David drove the car into the mud. (into the mud modifies drove)
Preposition Versus Adverb
Some words can be used as either prepositions for adverbs. If the word has an object, then the word is functioning as a preposition. If the word has no object, then it is functioning as an adverb.
- Please come inside. (adverb)
- The cat came inside the house. (preposition)
Resources For What is a Preposition
English Grammar in Use by Raymond Murphy
Plain English Handbook by J. Martyn Walsh and Anna Kathleen Walsh
The Only Grammar Book by Susan Thurman
Mastering English Grammar by S.H. Burton