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Ken Ward's Writing Pages
Writing: Grammar: Parts of Speech

Main Page: Parts of Speech
Page Contents
  1. Prepositions
      1. Simple Prepositions
      2. Complex Prepositions
      3. Prepositional Verbs
      4. Comparison of Phrasal Verbs and Prepositional Verbs


Prepositions are words that relate noun phrases, or pronouns, with another part of the sentence. They always have an object (a noun), but they do not always precede this object, although they often do. The prepositions in the table below are in bold. To find the object, ask "<preposition> whom or what?" For example, "Under what?" Simple prepositions are ones that consist of one word.

Simple Prepositions

Sentence Comment
The book was under the chair. Under what?
The chair. The chair is the object of the preposition "under".
The cat jumped on the table. On what?
The table. .
We left before the end. Before what?
The end.
The bird flew over the house. Over what?
The house.
It is ten past five. Past what?
She dreamed of travelling beyond the stars. Of what?
Beyond what?
The stars.
The waste is produced during the process. During what?
The process.
He argued strongly against them. Against what?
They worked for the mayor. For whom?
The mayor.

The following words in bold are also prepositions:
Example Comment
They visited circa 321 BC circa what?
321 BC.
The diploma was awarded cum laud. Cum what?
He comes everyday except Saturdays. Except what?
10 minus 1 plus 2 is 11. Minus what?
Plus what?
He did it notwithstanding the risk. Notwithstanding what?
The risk.
She was paid per hour. Per what?
We travelled via the underpass. Via what?
The underpass.
I was happy with this project vis a vis the other one. Vis a vis what?
The other one.

The phrase formed by a preposition is an adverbial phrase, or an adjectival phrase.

Complex Prepositions

Simple prepositions consist of one word only. The examples in the previous section are simple prepositions. Complex prepositions consist of more than one word. Some are wordy and in bad style.
Complex Preposition Example
according to Stranding prepositions is acceptable, according to Fowler.
ahead of We are releasing the document ahead of time.
along with
as a consequence of As a consequence of their discussion, plans were made for the new department.
as far as The land is clear as far as the sea.
as for As for Tom
as per Please bring all the items as per our letter.
as to
as well as You can do it as well as him.
aside from Aside from the earlier matter, we can go ahead.
because of Because of the storm, the roads were impassable.
by means of We will get their by means of boat.
close to Keep close to the shore.
due to The absence was due to illness.
except for Except for Jill, everyone is welcome.
far from They were far from home.
for use in This is for use in medical products only.
in accordance with This is quite in accordance with the regulations.
in addition to In addition to soap, bring a towel.
in association with This page is produced in association with Brian.
in breach of He was in breach of our sacred laws.
in case of
in charge of He is in charge of the project.
in conjunction with I shall investigate the matter in conjunction with my colleagues.
in contrast to Her response was sharply in contrast to his.
in control of She was in control of the machine.
in front of The cat sat in front of the dairy.
in keeping with This is in keeping with the prevailing paradigm.
in lieu of You can stay here in lieu of payment.
in line with The action taken was in line with our policy.
in order to He measured the quantities in order to avoid error.
in place of Use this in place of that.
in reference to My work is in reference to previous research.
in respect of There was disagreement in respect of the new plan.
in response to I am writing in response to your letter.
in spite of In spite of the war, he continued his work.
instead of I'd like the ice cream instead of the cake.
on behalf of I would like to thank everyone on behalf of the government.
on top of On top of the building was a strange, metallic thing.
on top of The fairy is on top of the Christmas tree.
owing to Owing to the quarrel, we have not spoken for days.
prior to They were always together, prior to their quarrel.
regardless of All are welcome, regardless of race, creed or religion.
subsequent to Subsequent to our discussion, I would like to add some more points.

Prepositional Verbs

Prepositional verbs are formed by adding a preposition to a verb.
The following are examples of prepositional verbs:
Unlike phrasal verbs, prepositional verbs:
The prepositional part of a prepositional verb may come at the end of a clause. See the next section.

Comparison of Phrasal Verbs and Prepositional Verbs

Phrasal Verb Prepositional Verb
Stress In speech you often stress the particle, and your intonation rises. In speech, you do not stress the preposition and your intonation drops.
Meaning The meaning of the verb changes from its basic meaning. The verb and the preposition form a single idea. The basic meaning of the verb isn't changed.
Noun Phrase If you write the verb's object as a Noun Phrase, you can write it before or after the particle. If you write the verb's object as a Noun Phrase, you must place it after the preposition.
Pronoun If you write the verb's object as a Pronoun, you must write the particle after it. If you write the verb's object as a Pronoun, you must write the preposition before it.
Adverb You cannot place an adverb between the verb and its particle. You can place an adverb between the verb and its preposition.
Pied Pipering The phrasal verb cannot be pied pipered. The prepositional verb can be pied pipered.

Phrasal Verb Prepositional Verb
Stress She wrote the project up. He wrote to his friend.
Meaning write up=compose a report, etc, from notes. write to= compose and send a letter, etc, to
Noun Phrase She wrote the project up. tick.gif
She wrote up the project. tick.gif
He wrote his friend to. x.gif
He wrote to his friend. tick.gif
Pronoun She wrote it up.  tick.gif
She wrote up it.  x.gif
He wrote him to. x.gif
He wrote to him. tick.gif
Adverb She wrote the project willingly up. x.gif
She wrote the project up willingly. tick.gif
He wrote willingly to his friend. tick.gif
Pied Pipering The project up which she wrote. x.gif The friend to whom he wrote. tick.gif

Ken Ward's Writing Pages

The Last Place in Space
- by Ken Ward

When pilot Philip Turner is accidentally transported by an anomaly and marooned on an unknown planet, he discovers the planet is threatened by a group of ruthless aliens similarly marooned. With the help of a group of young women with superpowers, and a powerful being called a god, he reluctantly uses his advanced knowledge and technology to help the planet's inhabitants, but will he succeed when outnumbered by aliens, opposed by greedy and squabbling kings, and limited by his gentle nature and moral beliefs? Paperback and Kindle:
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The Last Place in Space