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Prepositions are one of the parts of speech.

In this lesson, you will learn about prepositions and prepositional phrases, how to identify them, and how to use them in sentences.

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Parts of Speech

In English, we have different types of words that do different jobs in our sentences when we speak and write. We call the different types of words parts of speech.

This lesson is about the part of speech called a preposition.To introduce prepositions, we can think about this question: where is the gingerbread man?

  • The gingerbread man is on the red box.
  • The gingerbread man is under the pink box.

  • The gingerbread man is beside the blue box.
  • The gingerbread man is in the purple box.

The prepositions in these sentences are: on, under, beside, and in. They tell where the gingerbread man is in relation to the box.

A preposition is a word that relates parts of the sentence using direction, location, or time. Our gingerbread man example shows how prepositions use direction or location to relate different parts of the sentence, like the box and the gingerbread man.

When Is Recess?

How do prepositions relate parts of the sentence using time? Well, let’s ask another question to find out: When is recess?

  • Recess is after writing.
  • Recess is before science class.
  • Recess is at 12:45 pm.

  • Recess is between lunch and social studies.

The prepositions in these sentences are: after, before, at, and between. They tell when recess is in relation to other parts of the day.

The Prepositional Phrase

When you’re writing, you should use prepositions in a prepositional phrase. The prepositional phrase includes the preposition and its object, which is a noun, a person, place, thing, or idea, or pronoun, a word that replaces a noun.

  • On the boat
  • Under the stairs
  • Before tea

In each of these prepositional phrases, there is a preposition followed by an object. The object gives more information: On what? On the boat. Under what? Under the stairs.

Before what? Before tea.

Using the Prepositional Phrase

When you are writing, what can a prepositional phrase do to make your writing better? It can give more specific, detailed information to make your writing clear and concise. Prepositional phrases usually act as either adjectives or adverbs. This also means that your sentence should be able to stand on its own without the prepositional phrase. For example: The papers on top of the fridge fell on the floor.In this sentence, ‘on top of the fridge’ and ‘on the floor’ are the prepositional phrases. If we take them out, we have, ‘The papers fell.

‘ This is still a complete sentence.

Adjectives & Adverbs

If your prepositional phrase is acting as an adjective, it will modify a noun or pronoun. It will answer questions like: what kind, which one, how many, or how much.

  • The hat on the desk is mine.

This prepositional phrase answers the question: Which hat? The one on the desk.If your prepositional phrase is acting as an adverb, it will modify a verb. It will answer questions like: when, where, in what manner, or to what extent.

  • The delivery person ran through the park.

This prepositional phrase answers the question: Ran where? Ran through the park.

Lesson Summary

Prepositions are words that relate parts of the sentence using direction, location, or time. In writing, they appear in a prepositional phrase that can be used as an adjective or adverb. Prepositions are parts of speech that make writing more interesting and exact.

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