2011-12-12

Stuck on Structure
The Eight Parts of Speech – Part Seven

So far we’ve looked at Nouns, Verbs, Adjectives, Adverbs, Pronouns, and Conjunctions. Now it’s time for the lowly Preposition.

The prepositions we use most frequently are: at, by, for, from, in, of, on, to, with.

For a more comprehensive list, go HERE.

Prepositions can indicate location, usually by showing location in the physical world:

The cat is on the table.
The duck is in the pond.
The hat is beside the coat.

They can also show location in time:

At noon, the gunslingers had their showdown.
In the summer, I always plan on going to the park, but end up staying at home.

Prepositions work with a noun, pronoun or noun phrase. They join the noun to some other part of the sentence, such as:

The truck arrived with the shipment.

Prepositions link with nouns and pronouns to create prepositional phrases, such as with the shipment in the above sentence.

Prepositional phrases always have objects. One thing to bear in mind is the case of the object of the prepositional phrase. A pronoun must be in the objective case when it is the object of a preposition. Therefore, it is incorrect to say:

Between you and I, the new strategy will not work.

The personal pronoun I changes to me in the objective case; the sentence should begin with:

Between you and me

Besides being aware of proper selection of case, writers should also beware of excessive or unnecessary use of prepositions. For example:

In reference to your term paper, I think that it is wordy and unfocused.

Using the prepositional phrase (in reference to) creates an unnecessary introduction. The sentence could be much more direct:

Your term paper is wordy and unfocused.

At some point, someone came up with the rule that you should never end a sentence with a preposition. While this is true at times, at other times it’s necessary. Scrambling a sentence to avoid ending with a preposition can be just downright awkward:

This is a sentence up with which a good writer will not put.

Remember, you’re looking for clarity, right? Isn’t that what good writing is all about?

1 comment:

Catherine Lavoie said...

As a grammar nerd (sometimes called Grammar Police by my friends) I loved this post! Have a great day! :)