Modifier Monday: Prepositional Phrases

book_glasses_detailLast week, I talked about how a modifier can be a word or phrase that describes another word or group of words. Prepositional phrases are a type of modifier. A prepositional phrase is defined as “a…group of words that is used with a noun, pronoun, or noun phrase to show direction, location, or time, or to introduce an object” (Merriam-Webster).

A prepositional phrase consists of a preposition and its object, e.g., “out (preposition) the door (object).” This works as a modifier within a sentence like an adverb (“we are going out the door“). A prepositional phrase can also work like an adjective, as in “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” In this sentence, the prepositional phrases are modifying the noun, bird, whereas in the first example they modify the verb, going.

An easy way to identify whether a prepositional phrase is acting as an adverb or as an adjective is to identify which question it answers: “which one?” or “how, when or where?” In the examples above, you can see that “out the door” answers “where?” and “in the hand/in the bush” answers “which bird(s)?”

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