Prepositional Phrases

Sometimes the preposition does not stand on its own where it is easy to pick out from the rest of the sentence. Sometimes it gets hooked with other words and forms what is called a prepositional phrase. There are two general types- simple and complex prepositional phrases. We will be looking at the simple phrases first. A list of some of these is as follows:

add toafraid ofask forfeel likedream of
comply withcare fordeal withcount ondecide to
escape fromhappy abouthope forjealous ofkeep from
longing forpay forprovide withrefer torely on
sad aboutsearch forscared ofbelieve inwish for
to talkto wonder aboutto discoverto understand whyto realize

Learn to recognize such phrases

Becoming familiar with these and the many other common prepositional phrases, and recognizing how prepositions can be used within sentences, will make it easier for you to pick them out.

Recognizing phrases such as these can give you a heads-up that a preposition is present in the sentence.

It begins with knowing your prepositions and seeing what words are often connected to them. For example, we know ‘to’ is a preposition and we often see the phrase ‘go to’, so this is a simple prepositional phrase. It is one or two words that are connected to a preposition.

1. You know you can count on me if you ever decide to talk.
2. Billy’s money adds to the amount we have to pay   for the books we have been longing for.
3. Sally asked for permission   to go.
4. My best friend is sad about having to move.
5. What are you so scared of?

Distinguishing between simple and complex prepositional phrases

A complex phrase is the entire chunk of the sentence that is attached to the simple phrase.

to the - simple prepositional phrase
to the store - complex prepositional phrase

In - a preposition
In the book - a simple phrase
In the book I was reading - a complex phrase.

Going to - a simple phrase
Going to be late - a complex phrase

Let's see how such phrases are implemented within sentences:

Tomorrow we are going- this is a sentence.
Tomorrow we are going to the store- has the preposition of ‘to’ and the phrase of ‘going to the store’.

"I wanted my friend Sally to come with me"
I wanted my friend Sally- this is a sentence
to- this is a preposition.
to come- this is a simple phrase.
to come with me- this is a complex prepositional phrase.

A sentence can have more than one phrases within it:

"I went to the store for some milk and I came home by bus and went over the toll bridge."

I went- simple sentence
to the store- prepositional phrase
for some milk- prepositional phrase
I came home- simple sentence
by bus- prepositional phrase
over the toll bridge- prepositional phrase

Identifying Phrases Within Sentences - Interactive Exercise:

Read each sentence and try to find the prepositional phrase(s) within it.
Then, see if you were correct: Click the prepositions to highlihgt the whole phrases.

1. Will you go to the store?
2. Dad and I are looking for a special gift to give to mom for Mother's day.
3. The dog needs to go outside.
4. In the morning the family will come.
5. After the party, we are having fun with some friends.
6. Billy is in the tree house.
7. Johnny was acting weird before class today.
8. The restaurant on Main Street is always busy.
9. The information in the magazine article is not true!
10. Under the mattress in the old bedroom is a poster from my childhood.
11. How many times did Bobby go in and out of the door.
12. Before we woke up, Dad already had gone to the store.