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In this video, we’ll look at some characteristics and examples of introductory prepositional phrases. By the end of this video, you’ll be able to identify introductory prepositional phrases and know how and why we use them.

Prepositions

Think about a mouse in its hole. It sees a piece of cheese lying outside the hole, but it has to make a plan of attack.

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Should the mouse run straight towards the cheese, should it jump on top of it, should it hide behind it first to see if anyone is around? When you think about a mouse in relation to a piece of cheese, you are thinking of prepositions.In this video, we’ll learn about characteristics of prepositional phrases, and introductory prepositional phrases, and look at some examples.

Prepositional Phrases

A prepositional phrase is any phrase that begins with a preposition. Think about the mouse in relation to the cheese again. Are you picturing him: ‘above’ it, ‘beside,’ or ‘on’ it? These words are prepositions, words that describe a location, in this case, the mouse.

Let’s look at some examples of how prepositions are used in sentences.

  • The mouse ran up the cheese.
  • The mouse ate through the cheese.
  • The mouse sits by the cheese to eat it.

A prepositional phrase can work as an adjective or adverb to provide more information in a sentence. When a prepositional phrase works as an adjective, it helps to describe the object being discussed. When a prepositional phrase works as an adverb, it tells us how, when, or where.

For example, here are two prepositional phrases that work as adjectives, since they describe the objects in the sentences:

  1. The team, with the blue stripes, won the game.
  2. The swings between the trees are fun to play on.

‘With the blue stripes’ tells us which team won the game.

‘Between the trees’ tells which swings are fun to play on.

Introductory Prepositional Phrases

An introductory prepositional phrase is a prepositional phrase that comes at the beginning of a sentence. It does not contain the subject of the sentence, so it can never stand alone. Instead, an introductory prepositional phrase is often followed by a comma. It provides readers with some background information about what’s happening in a sentence, setting the stage for what’s to come.

An introductory prepositional phrase can start with a preposition, like: above, across, after, against, along, among, around, at, before, behind, below, beneath, between, beyond, by, in, inside, near, on, outside, over, through, toward, under, up, and within.

Phrases & Commas

An introductory prepositional phrase typically needs a comma when it contains more than four words, as shown in this example:

  • Against his better judgment or logical reasoning, he played outside all afternoon instead of doing his homework.

The prepositional phrase, ‘Against his better judgment or logical reasoning’ needs a comma, since it contains more than four words.

  • At home we eat ice cream for dessert.

The prepositional phrase ‘At home’ doesn’t need a comma, since it’s short and clear.Here are a couple of other examples of sentences that have introductory prepositional phrases.

  • After they finished their homework, they played outside.

The introductory prepositional phrase in this sentence is: ‘After they finished their homework.

‘ It tells us when the events of the sentence occurred.

  • Under the tree flowers bloom in spring.

The introductory prepositional phrase, ‘Under the tree,’ tells us where the flowers are blooming.

Lesson Summary

An introductory prepositional phrase is a prepositional phrase found at the beginning of a sentence. It functions as an adjective or adverb to provide readers with background information and detail about what’s happening in a sentence. Most often, introductory prepositional phrases help describe when, where, or how an event occurs.

As a prepositional phrase cannot stand alone, use a comma after the phrase when it contains four or more words.

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