English 362: Chapter 7 – Prepositional Phrases

Congrats on finishing chapter 6 pwips! Brace yourselves, and lets keep forging ahead to chapter 7!

In this chapter, we will begin with talking about the structure of prepositional phrases and three of the ways they can function.


The common structure of prepositional phrases is Prep + NP. The NP has the function of the prepositional complement (PrepComp)

  • Here are examples:

without you

on the boat

in our records of the American War for Independence

Note that prep phrases can contain other prep phrases as is shown in the last example. But also note how each of those prep phrases had the basic structure of Prep + NP.

Now lets discuss some of the different functions of the PrepPhr.

  1. Prep phrases as Modifiers of a Noun or Noun Phrase

One function of a prep phrase is to modify a noun as an adjective does. Remember: When prep phrases modify nouns, it will always follow that noun.

  • Example:

My mom made the recipe from the Puerto Rican cookbook

In this sentence, the noun that is being modified by a prep phrase is “the recipe”. The phrase that modifies it is “from the Puerto Rican cookbook”. Since this prep phrase modifies a noun, that prep phrase is part of the overall NP “the recipe from the Puerto Rican cookbook”.


2.   Prep Phrases as Noncore Phrases

In the last chapter, we learned about precore and postcore phrases such as adjuncts and adverbials. The form of those phrases is often prep phrase.

  • Examples:

In my opinion, the Beijing Olympics ceremony was the most impressive.

The baby cried during the night.

In the first sentence, the prep phrase functions as an adjunct. In the second, it functions as an adverbial.


3.   Prep Phrases as Adverbial Complements

Prep phrases can also function as adverbial complements. Adverbial complements complete the sense of a verb.

  • Examples:

My mom put the raspberry cream-cheese cake in the oven.

The first wave of raiders broke through the north gate.

In both of these sentences, the prep phrases that function as adverbial complements are “in the oven” and “through the north gate”. If you remove these phrases, you can see how the sense of the verb is incomplete.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *