Prepositions: Little Words with Big Uses

Contributor: Allison Crews. Lesson ID: 13719

Can you easily identify prepositional phrases? If you aren't sure or could use a little practice, this lesson is for you!


Grammar, Writing

English / Language Arts
learning style
personality style
Lion, Otter
Grade Level
High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

Audio: Image - Button Play
Image - Lession Started Image - Button Start

cats and plants

  • What do the words in the image above have in common?

Read on to find out!

All the words in the images above are prepositions.

Prepositions are words that modify nouns or verbs in a sentence by showing the relationship between that noun or verb and the object of the preposition.

For example, in the image above, you could say:

The cat is between two plants.

The word between is showing the relationship between a noun (cat) and the object (two plants). We know exactly where the cat is in relation to the two plants because of the word between.

Take a look at this helpful list of some popular prepositions:

  • abroad
  • below
  • instead of
  • about
  • beneath
  • into
  • above
  • beside
  • except
  • according to
  • besides
  • except for
  • across
  • between
  • excluding
  • after
  • beyond
  • for
  • against
  • but
  • following
  • ago
  • by
  • from
  • ahead of
  • by means of
  • hence
  • along
  • circa
  • like
  • amidst
  • concerning
  • minus
  • among
  • despite
  • near
  • amongst
  • down
  • next
  • apart
  • due to
  • next to
  • around
  • during
  • past
  • as
  • in
  • per
  • as far as
  • in accordance with
  • prior to
  • as well as
  • in addition to
  • round
  • aside
  • in case of
  • off
  • at
  • in front of
  • on
  • away
  • in lieu of
  • on account of
  • barring
  • in place of
  • on behalf
  • because of
  • in spite of
  • on to
  • before
  • in to
  • on top of
  • behind
  • inside
  • onto


Prepositional phrases consist of a preposition, its object, and any of the object's modifiers. The phrase functions as a whole to modify nouns or verbs.

When a prepositional phrase modifies a noun, it is called an adjectival phrase. When it modifies a verb, it is called an adverbial phrase.

Adjectival Phrase Examples

Here are some simple examples of prepositional phrases as adjectives:

I saw the segment on the news.

Please bring me the plate with grapes and cheese.

He shared his box of chocolates last night.

In each of the preceding examples, the italicized phrase is modifying a noun.

  • What is the noun being modified in each sentence?

Take a moment to identify each.

In the first, on the news is modifying the noun segment.

In the second, with grapes and cheese is modifying the noun plate.

In the third, of chocolates is modifying the noun box.

Adverbial Examples

In these examples, the prepositional phrases act as adverbs:

The crowd cheered throughout the fourth quarter.

Paolo lives on Vancouver Island.

Before her family moved, she was the club's leader.

In each of the preceding examples, the italicized phrase modifies a verb.

  • Can you identify the verb being modified in each?

In the first, throughout the fourth quarter modifies the verb cheered.

In the second, on Vancouver Island modifies the verb lives.

In the third, Before her family moved modified the verb was.

two different paths

  • But what if it gets more complicated?

Take a look at this example:

The girl fell into a puddle of fresh mud.

Image - Video

The first prepositional phrase in the sentence, into a puddle, is modifying the verb fell. The second, of fresh mud, is modifying the noun puddle.

so far so good

  • Feeling good about prepositional phrases so far?

Click through to the Got It? section for additional guided practice.

Image - Button Next