Quick Guide to Understanding Prepositions

Prepositions

You have probably heard someone say, “Never end a sentence with a preposition.” But do you know what that means or why it is a grammatical no-no?

A simple Google search will give you a list of prepositions or prepositional phrases (a partial list is located at the end of this blog). Prepositions show the relationship between two words: the object of the preposition and another word in the sentence.

Example

The preposition in the above example is “in.” To find the object of the preposition, ask “what?” The couple was dancing in what? Rain. The object of the preposition is the rain.

So what makes “in” the preposition? It explains the relationship between the dancing couple and the rain. Without the word “in,” we would not know if the couple was dancing while watching the rain, dancing for the rain or dancing after the rain. We need the preposition to explain the relationship.

How to Spot a Preposition

Consider a chair. Any action that you can take regarding that chair is likely a preposition. You can sit on, walk around, step over, crawl under, stare at, walk between, place something in, reach across, set something on or walk to the chair. These are all prepositions.

Prepositional Phrases

A preposition by itself will often get you into trouble (grammatical trouble anyway). Therefore, understanding prepositional phrases can help you avoid inadvertently ending a sentence with a preposition.

Prepositional phrases typically answer the questions, Where, When, How, How Many, Which One and What Kind?

The first word in a prepositional phrase is the preposition.

Story

People often end sentences with prepositions in common speech. (Example: What’s up?) However, written English is expected to adhere more closely to proper grammar rules.

Now we understand why Winston S. Churchill once said, “This is the type of arrant pedantry up with which I will not put.” He was referring to the confusing rule that one should not end a sentence with a preposition, even when using slang.

 Before sending an email or submitting your manuscript, do a quick check for sentences ending in prepositions. Here is an easy reference guide to help.

List of Common Prepositions

If you’re still not sure whether or not you’re using prepositions correctly, contact Unscripted for assistance.

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