a stack of old books

Prepositional Phrases

A prepositional phrase begins with a preposition and contains a noun or pronoun functioning as the object of the preposition. Any modifiers of the object are also contained within the prepositional phrase. A prepositional phrase itself functions as either an adjective or an adverb.

Shane is going with Jack.

The preposition with begins the prepositional phrase. The only other word in this prepositional is the proper noun Jack, which is the object of the preposition. The prepositional phrase functions as an adverb modifying is going to describe where Shane is going.

The cat on the old couch is very mean.

This phrase begins with the preposition on and ends with the object of the preposition couch. The article the and the adjective old are also part of the prepositional phrase because they are modifying couch. The entire phrase is functioning as an adjective modifying cat.

The man in the black coat was named employee of the month at the end of last week.

It is common for a single sentence to have multiple prepositional phrases. This sentence has four prepositional phrases. Can you tell what they are all modifying?

  • In the black coat is an adjectival prepositional phrase modifying the noun man.
  • Of the month is also an adjectival phrase modifying employee.
  • At the end is an adverbial prepositional phrase describing when the verb was named took place.
  • Of last week is an adjectival prepositional phrase modifying the noun end from the previous prepositional phrase.