a circular framework

Compound Prepositions

A compound preposition is a preposition made up of more than one word. Sometimes a compound preposition may be made up of two prepositions. Sometimes it is made up of a preposition or two along with another word. Compound prepositions may also be called phrasal prepositions or complex prepositions.

The cat is next to the sofa.
The game was canceled due to bad weather.
According to the teacher, this project should be fun.
We chose the green car instead of the blue car.
The dog is in front of the tree.

Notice that many of the words used to form compound prepositions are not prepositions on their own and have different meanings in other contexts. For example, next could be an adjective or adverb, and front could be a noun or an adjective. However, when these words are used in conjunction with prepositions, the phrases they create relate their objects to their sentences in very specific ways.

Here are a few common compound prepositions:

according todue toin the event of
along withexcept forin spite of
apart fromfor lack ofnext to
because offor want ofon top of
contrary toin case ofwith regard to
If you’re interested in an exhaustive list of prepositions of all kinds, you might find this Wikipedia page about prepositions helpful.

Here’s one more thing to think about. You may have noticed that some of these compound prepositions actually seem to be creating two prepositional phrases stuck together.

For lack of a better term, we'll just call this a quiz.

If you really want to be picky about it, you could argue that phrases like the one in italics above are actually two prepositional phrases. You might say that for lack is an adverbial prepositional phrase modifying the verb will call. The second prepositional phrase of a better term would then be and adjectival prepositional phrase modifying the noun lack from the first prepositional phrase.

It’s fine if you like to pick things apart as far as possible. However, you might not always find the logic behind some phrases to be so neat and tidy, and such pickiness is not really necessary since all the words are working together as a unified preposition to create a specific meaning.