Use prepositions as adjectives or adverbs. Avoid ending a sentence with a preposition.

The Preposition

A Preposition is a word used to show the relation of a noun or pronoun to some other word in the sentence.

In the following sentences the prepositions are shown in bold type. The words between which the prepositions show relationship are italicized.

  1. The house across the street has been sold.
  2. Sally met me after lunch.
  3. Everyone in the car escaped injury.
  4. The area beyond the white line is foul territory.
  5. We flew above the clouds.

A preposition always introduces a phrase. The noun or pronoun at the end of a prepositional phrase is the object of the preposition which begins the phrase. In the preceding examples the objects of the prepositions are street, lunch, car, line, and clouds.

Prepositional phrases are used as adjectives (modifying a noun or pronoun) or adverbs (modifying a verb, adjective or adverb). Adverbs answer the questions where, when, how, or to what extent.

The following words are commonly used as prepositions:

about at but (meaning except)
above before by
across behind concerning
after below down
against beneath during
along beside except
amid besides for
among between from
around beyond in
into since until
like through unto
of throughout up
off to upon
on toward with
over under within
past underneath without

Exercise 1: Put parenthesis around each prepositional phrase and point an arrow to the word or phrase it modifies. Identify the phrase as an adjective or adverb.

1. Many groups of primitive people explain unusual natural phenomena through myths.

2. In the past the Australian aborigines told a clever tale about the mallee tree.

3. The mallee tree grows into a peculiar shape.

4. Toward the top, the trunk of the tree twists and turns.

5. For many years the tree grew straight.

6. Then, by a stroke of genius, Rat Man invented the boomerang.

7. With careful craftsmanship, he made a new weapon for hunting.

8. Because of its strange flight the boomerang fascinated the mallee.

9. The mallee followed the boomerang's flight by turning its body.

10. Since that day all descendants of the first mallee tree have had twisted trunks.

EXERCISE 2 Circle each adverb phrase in the following sentences. Then draw an arrow from the phrase to the word it modifies.

1. Luis and I have watched reruns of Star Trek for many years.

2. We have viewed each show with avid interest.

3. I even know the dialogue for some of the shows by heart.

4. A cult of Star Trek fans has developed within the last few years.

5. Every year they hold a Star Trek convention in New York City.

6. Luis and I attended the convention out of curiosity.

7. A small replica of the spaceship stood near the center of the room.

8. We approached the ship and looked inside the windows.

9. A miniature of James T Kirk sat in the captain's chair.

10. Spock lay beneath the phaser bank, fixing the machinery.


EXERCISE 3 Circle the phrase in each sentence and draw an arrow from the phrase to the word it modifies. Tell whether the phrase is being used as an adjective or an adverb.

1. The dog with the long tail is mine.

2. Pam writes with her left hand.

3. From the north came a driving snowstorm.

4. The sculpture by Augusta Savage is inspiring.

5. My book report was not copied from the book jacket.

6. Teams from twenty schools entered the tournament.

7. Buy your school supplies at Zing's.

8. I want another book by Shirley Jackson.

9. Madame Curie's achievements in science were remarkable.

10. You must come home before midnight.

Exercise 4. Correct the following sentences by supplying an object for the preposition.

Example 1: To be honest is a goal I strive toward.

Correction: To be honest is a goal toward which I strive.

Correction: I strive to be honest.

Example 2: I had to tell the principal whom I wrote the paper for.

Correction: I had to tell the principal for whom I wrote the paper.

  1. He didn’t know whom he was speaking to.

  2. The teacher did not understand what he was being called for.

  3. Hawaii is a place I want to go to.

  4. This is not the class I signed up for.

  5. I need something to set the lamp upon.

  6. Where is the car I left the keys in?

  7. This dictionary is a good place to get esoteric definitions from.

  8. This is the rock I hid the plans under.

  9. To get to the lake, there is a mountain you have to drive around.

  10. The second lock is the one I put the key into.

  11. The brown sofa is the one I left the guitar behind.

  12. I had to tell my legislator which bill I wanted him to vote against.

  13. He had nowhere to go but up.

  14. It was the last train I parked the car beside.

  15. This is something I will not put up with.