Prepositions Can be Confusing

 prepositions are confusing

Are you confused by Prepositions? Prepositions can be mystifying.

We hope this article will clear up some of the mystery.

A preposition shows the relationship between its object and another word in the sentence.

We say prepositional phrase because a preposition needs a noun to make sense. The noun completes the phrase.


Example:  Up the street                  Up is the preposition while street is the noun.

                  Over the garage            Over is the preposition while Garage is the noun.


Other descriptive words can be added between the preposition and the noun.

Example: Behind the red barn. Behind is the preposition while barn is the noun. Red describes the barn.

                  Inside the large box. Inside is the preposition while box is the noun. Large describes the box.


There are no rules in English about how many prepositional phrases can be put in a single sentence.

Often writers will use long strings of prepositional phrases. This makes reading difficult.

When editing, you should break-up sentences with several prepositional phrases into 2 or more sentences. Or you could delete some of the prepositional phrases.


Here is a partial list of prepositions:

About Above Across After Along Among Around At Before Behind Below Beside
Beneath Between Beyond But By Despite Down During Except For From In
Inside Into Like Near Off Of On Onto Out Outside Over Past
Since Through Till To Toward Under Until Up With Within Without



Here are some two word prepositions

According to Apart from Aside from Back to Because of
Close to Due to Far from Except for Instead of


Here are some three word prepositions

As far as As soon as As well as As opposed to By virtue of
In accordance with In addition to In case of In order to


Two or three word prepositions act together as a single word in the propositional phrase.


Here are some tips about Using prepositions.


prepositions in


Tip #1: A prepositional phrase can act as an adjective.

Remember, adjectives describe nouns or pronouns. As an adjective, the phrase will describes ‘which one’. 

Example: The girl in the blue dress. The Prepositional phrase tells us which girl.

Example: The building across the street. This propositional phrase tells which building.


preposition on


Tip #2: A prepositional phrase can act as an adverb.

Remember, adverbs describe verbs. A phrase used as an adverb will tell us – how – where – or when.

Example. Joe ran between his home and school. (Where)

Joe ran in the morning. (When)

Joe ran with an injured foot. (How)

Each example describes something about the verb ‘ran’.


preposition under

Tip #3: Rule for Prepositions which seem to be Nouns.

Sometimes the noun in a prepositional phrase seems to be the logical subject of the sentence. That is NEVER so. This becomes important when deciding if the subject is singular or plural, so you know if the verb should be singular or plural.

Example: Neither of the runners won the race.

Runners is plural, but not the subject of the sentence. It is part of a prepositional phrase starting with of.

Neither is singular and the actual subject of the sentence. So the verb, won should be singular.


Example: Kate, along with her sisters, enjoyed the dance.

Sisters (plural) is part of the prepositional phrase starting with along, so the verb must remain singular.

Kate not sisters is the subject of the sentence.


Check out a complete list of 150 propositions:


 Has this been helpful?

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This Month’s Exercise


What is a Writing Exercise?

The Exercise is your chance to practice what you have learned. You can create a sentence

and Submit it to our website.


How the Writing Exercise Works.

Each month, we will post a new writing tips, with examples, and a new challenge exercise.

We will select 5 submissions which we feel are the best examples and post them.

This gives you the opportunity to see how others applied the Current Tip to their writing.

Next month you will be able to vote on which submission you think is best.

The winner will then be announced the following month.


‘Prepositional Phrase’ Writing Exercise. Remember, I said there are no rules for how many prepositional phrases you can put in a single sentence. This month’sexercise should be fun. Write a single sentence with as many prepositional phrases as you can think of. It may not be great writing, but you can laugh while creating an interesting sentence!


Here’s my Example: The farm house is down the road, over a rickety bridge across the brook, around the bend, past the red barn beside the road, behind the general store between the two oak trees, beneath the cliff, near the base of the mountain, past the first stream, but before the second stream, which floods during a heavy rain.

Now you try it!

Submit your sentence to be voted on.

To post your sentence to be voted on, go to SUBMIT.


Happy Writing, 

John & Patty 2018

self editing


One trick we use when editing, is to look for crutch words.
These words are so common we don’t think  anything about writing them.
We look for these 27 words  with every edit.
By deleting or changing these words our writing is stronger.

Download the list  HERE. See if it works for you.


If you enjoyed this month’s Creative Writing tip, share it with your friends or writers group. Also, we

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Writers clubs and home school groups have our permission to use these exercises and tips for your meetings.


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