I’m a big fan of grammar. Surprise, right? But in order to use grammar properly, we need to understand the parts of a sentence. A lot of grammar deals with objects of sentences. You know, subject, verb, object. Suzy slapped Bobby.

But not everything that comes after a verb is an object. Prepositional phrases can throw a wrench into the mix.

Cute Cat

The cat is on the cloud. Photo by Mikael Tigerström

Prepositional phrases are phrases that start with prepositions, and end with a noun. Prepositions can be tricky to define, but the way that my grade school teacher explained them to me is that they are “anywhere the cat can go.” This wise teaching was accompanied by drawings of cats on tables, under tables, near tables, and by tables. The preposition explains the relationship between the cat and the table, just as it explains the relationship between nouns in a sentence.

The tricky part is remembering that nouns within prepositional phrases are not objects of the sentence. This can get challenging when you are tackling grammatical conundrums that are dependent on direct objects. Practice makes perfect though, and the more you practice, the easier it is to recognize prepositional phrases.

PRACTICE

Speaking of practice, let’s write about that pesky cat. Come up with as many creative prepositional phrases involving the cat as you can (e.g. the cat sat on the hot stove), and post your practice in the comments.

Leave notes for your fellow writers as well.

Liz Bureman
Liz Bureman
Liz Bureman has a more-than-healthy interest in proper grammatical structure, accurate spelling, and the underappreciated semicolon. When she's not diagramming sentences and reading blogs about how terribly written the Twilight series is, she edits for the Write Practice, causes trouble in Denver, and plays guitar very slowly and poorly. You can follow her on Twitter (@epbure), where she tweets more about music of the mid-90s than writing.