A prepositional phrase is made up of a preposition and a noun phrase. We use prepositional phrases for many purposes, for example:

- as adverbials of time and place:

We will be back in a few days.
They drove to Glasgow

.- as a postmodifier in a noun phrase:

Helen is the girl in the red dress
We’ve got a new television with a thirty one inch screen.

- to show who did something:

The lion was killed by the hunter
I saw a wonderful painting by Van Gogh

- with double object verbs like give and get:

We gave five pounds to the woman on the corner.
They got a drink for me.

- after certain verbs, nouns and adjectives:

The book belongs to me.
I had an argument with my brother.
I feel sorry for you.

Exercise

Comments

Prepositional phrases have two functions to perform, they can modify an adjective and adverb, Those modifying adverbs are called adverb prepositional phrases and the other one are called adjective prepositional phrases.

Now in order to identify whether or not a word we identify from a sentence is a prepositional phrase, we can use adjective and adverb questions to make sure about that.
E.g Aslam returned to the classroom. Now, "to the classroom" is our prepositional phrase, but can we verify it?
We can verify it by adjective and adverb questions. If we get a answer, then we've got our phrase.

Hello,

My question is about prepositions. I actually looked far for finding a more appropriate page to ask my question, but unfortunately I couldn't find such a page but this.

My question is about some bewildering prepositions that I even suspect if it's correct to name them prepositions! They're "but", "save" and "bar".

Let's first speak about "but" and a general rule on the English grammar:
"The verb after prepositions comes in the gerund-participle form, essentially always."

Now what about "but"?
Please take a look at these sentences:

1- He does nothing but eat.
2- Ed does nothing but drink beer all day.
3- If we want vehicles to be less polluting, then we have no choice but to find an alternative fuel.

As you see, neither "eat" nor "drink" or "to find" comes in gerund-participle. The same is for "save" and "bar" prepositions.

Now I have two questions:
1- Do you believe that "but", "save" and "bar" are actually prepositions?
2- If they're prepositions, are they exceptional cases for the general rule I mentioned above, please?

Thanks for much for your help.

Hello abbasi,

This is an unusual structure and it is the focus of some discussion amongst grammarians. It occurs only when certain forms are used in the first part of the sentence - specifically the verb do:

he does nothing but eat

he likes nothing but eating

 

 

You can find a discussion of this topic here.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,

I am confused between" inspired by" and "inspired with" as in this sentence:
"Poets are normally inspired (by/with) beauty." Could you please explain the different meaning if I use either of this preposition? Thank you.

Hello Widescreen,

I'm not aware of any difference in meaning. The most common preposition to use is 'by'. 'With' is relatively uncommon and may sound odd in some contexts. You can see examples and the frequency of use of each preposition here.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear team
Which sentence is correct?
A) She has made a promise to her love.
B) She has made a promise with her love.

Actually she has promised her love for not doing something again.

Hello Marie,

'with' is not normally used with 'promise' -- 'to' or a clause beginning with 'that' are the most common forms. See the dictionary entry for 'promise' to see more examples.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you : )

Dear Kirk,
I'm confused about a form of a phrase: 'a spike in...' like 'a spike in gun crimes' or 'a spike in oil prices' etc. It clearly cannot be used with other prepositions than 'in', but is 'a spike in' actually a prepositional phrase as a form? As the pre-position is after the noun.. Or is this not even a prepositional phrase? but just a noun or noun phrase etc.?
Really appreciate your help in advance.

Best wishes

Hello amongerio,

A 'spike' in general is a shape, but is often used in the context of statistics to refer to a high level or price of something, since this is the shape you can see in a line graph. If you look at a graph of oil prices over the last 80 years, for example, the high points you see in February 1948, January 1974, April 1980, etc. all look like spikes.

As such, in the phrase 'a spike in oil prices', 'spike' is simply the head of a noun phrase that also includes the prepositional phrase 'in oil prices'.

Does that make sense?

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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