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The Preposition

Recognize a preposition when you see one.

Prepositions are the words that indicate location. Usually, prepositions show this location in the physical world. Check out the three examples below:

Arf!

The puppy is on the floor.

Bad dog!

The puppy is in the trash can.

Don't chew the cell phone!

The puppy is beside the phone.

On, in, and beside are all prepositions. They are showing where the puppy is. Prepositions can also show location in time. Read the next three examples:

At midnight, Jill craved mashed potatoes with grape jelly.

In the spring, I always vow to plant tomatoes but end up buying them at the supermarket.

During the marathon, Iggy's legs complained with sharp pains shooting up his thighs.

At midnight, in the spring, and during the marathon all show location in time.

Because there are so many possible locations, there are quite a few prepositions. Below is the complete list.

about
above
according to
across
after
against
along
along with
among
apart from
around
as
as for
at
because of
before
behind
below
beneath
beside
between
beyond
but*
by
by means of
concerning
despite
down
during
except
except for
excepting
for
from
in
in addition to
in back of
in case of
in front of
in place of
inside
in spite of
instead of
into
like
near
next
of
off
on
onto
on top of
out
out of
outside
over
past
regarding
round
since
through
throughout
till
to
toward
under
underneath
unlike
until
up
upon
up to
with
within
without

* But is very seldom a preposition. When it is used as a preposition, but means the same as exceptEveryone ate frog legs but Jamie. But usually functions as a coordinating conjunction.

Understand how to form a prepositional phrase.

Prepositions generally introduce prepositional phrases. Prepositional phrases look like this:

preposition + optional modifiers + noun, pronoun, or gerund

Here are some examples:

At school

At = preposition; school = noun.

According to us

According to = preposition; us = pronoun.

By chewing

By = preposition; chewing = gerund.

Under the stove

Under = preposition; the = modifier; stove = noun.

In the crumb-filled, rumpled sheets

In = preposition; the, crumb-filled, rumpled = modifiers; sheets = noun.

Realize that some prepositions also function as subordinate conjunctions.

Some prepositions also function as subordinate conjunctions. These prepositions are after, as, before, since, and until. A subordinate conjunction will have both a subject and a verb following it, forming a subordinate clause.

Look at these examples:

After Sam and Esmerelda kissed goodnight

After = subordinate conjunction; Sam, Esmerelda = subjects; kissed = verb.

As Jerome buckled on the parachute

As = subordinate conjunction; Jerome = subject; buckled = verb.

Before I eat these frog legs

Before = subordinate conjunction; I = subject; eat = verb.

Since we have enjoyed the squid eyeball stew

Since = subordinate conjunction; we = subject; have enjoyed = verb.

Until your hiccups stop

Until = subordinate conjunction; hiccups = subject; stop = verb.

If you find a noun [with or without modifiers] following one of these five prepositions, then all you have is a prepositional phrase. Look at these examples:

After the killer calculus test

After = preposition; the, killer, calculus = modifiers; test = noun.

As a good parent

As = preposition; a, good = modifiers; parent = noun.

Before dinner

Before = preposition; dinner = noun.

Since the breakup

Since = preposition; the = modifier; breakup = noun.

Until midnight

Until = preposition; midnight = noun.

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