A preposition usually indicates the temporal, spatial or logical relationship of its object to the rest of the sentence.
In each of the following sentences, a preposition locates the noun book in space or in time:
A prepositional phrase is made up of a preposition, its object and any associated adjectives or adverbs. A prepositional phrase can function as a noun, an adjective or an adverb. The most common prepositions are about, above, across, after, against, along, among, around, at, before, behind, below, beneath, beside, between, beyond, but, by, despite, down, during, except, for, from, in, inside, into, like, near, of, off, on, onto, out, outside, over, past, since, through, throughout, till, to, toward, under, underneath, until, up, upon, with, within and without.
Each of the highlighted words in the following examples is a preposition.
In this sentence, the preposition without introduces the noun fear. The prepositional phrase without fear functions as an adverb describing how the climbers rappelled.
Here the preposition throughout introduces the noun phrase the country. The prepositional phrase throughout the country acts as an adverb describing the location of the rejoicing.
The preposition along introduces the noun phrase the banister and the prepositional phrase along the banister acts as an adverb, describing where the spider crawled.
Here the preposition under introduces the prepositional phrase under the porch, which acts as an adverb modifying the compound verb is hiding.
Here the preposition in introduces the prepositional phrase in his office, which acts as an adverb describing the location of the missing papers.
© Department of English, Faculty of Arts, University of Ottawa, 2013