The Center for Writing Studies

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Navigation: Quick Links

Professor writing on a chalkboard

Writers Workshop: Writer Resources

Grammar Handbook: Prepositional Phrases

A prepositional phrase is a group of words including a preposition and a noun, pronoun, or group of words used as a noun. They are fragments that usually do not stand alone, except in commands like "At once!" or "On your feet!"

Kinds of Phrases

There are two kinds of prepositional phrases: adjective phrases and adverb phrases.

An adjective phrase modifies a noun or pronoun. It always comes immediately after the noun or pronoun it modifies:

An adverb phrase modifies a verb, adjective, or adverb. It is used to tell when, where, how, or to what extent about the word it modifies:

Two or More Phrases

When two or more prepositional phrases follow each other, they may modify the same word, or one phrase may modify the object in the preceding phrase:

Preposition or Adverb?

Many words can be either prepositions or adverbs; you can distinguish prepositions by their objects.

Prepositional Phrase or Infinitive Phrase?

Prepositional phrases can be confused with infinitive phrases. "To" followed by a verb is an infinitive, but "to" followed by a noun or pronoun is a prepositional phrase