What is a Prepositional Phrase? 25 Examples

December 24, 2023

prepositional phrase

Put simply, a prepositional phrase is a part of a sentence consisting of a preposition (a word used before other words to demonstrate time, place, or relationships, among other things), an object (a word acted upon by the preposition), and words to modify that object (scroll down to skip to prepositional phrase examples).

Take an example sentence:

I haven’t been to California since that vacation three years ago.

So, let’s break it down:

The prepositional phrase: since that fun vacation three years ago

The preposition: since

The object: vacation

Words modifying the object: that, three years ago

This particular preposition describes time, in order to specify when something happened. If you are describing when something happened or where something is, chances are you will use a prepositional phrase. They are also often used to talk about less tangible events and ideas (see below for phrases starting with despite, in regard to, and about, among others), and to describe relationships between objects. Continue reading for common prepositions and types of prepositional phrases, including 25 full examples.

What is a Prepositional Phrase? – Common prepositions

Here are some of the most common prepositions and brief examples of how they could be used to refer to times, places, or ideas. This list is not comprehensive, and they might also overlap in uses. For instance, words such as in, on, at, from, throughout, and to can be used to talk about time and place. On the other hand, prepositions such as during will normally refer to time, while a preposition such as beside is most commonly used to describe the placement of something.

Demonstrating time:

in the morning

at 8 o’clock in the morning

on Monday mornings

since I woke up this morning

from morning until afternoon

within the morning hours

during my first class

between breakfast and lunch

since yesterday’s class

until today

Demonstrating place:

in the kitchen

at my friend’s house

on the countertop

inside the drawer

under the sink

above the dishwasher

across the street from school

behind the bank

beside the yellow house

along the street

toward the grocery store

in front of the sign

throughout the neighborhood 

Demonstrating ideas or relationships:

despite the fact

regarding your email

concerning this question

in spite of all the advice

instead of the red sweater

consists of six menu items

reading about the film

like last time

suffers from a cold

contributing to my success

resulting in good grades

except for today

with respect to the last point

Kinds of prepositional phrases

Here are the most common kinds of prepositional phrases and 25 examples. In these examples, you will find prepositions from the different categories above. As you will see, sometimes prepositional phrases come early on in the sentence, and other times they come later.

You might also notice that several sentences include more than one prepositional phrase. For example, in Ex. 5, “last weekend” is a prepositional phrase that modifies “watched (a verb), though the highlighted prepositional phrase is “about ballet dancers” modifying “documentary” (a noun). Continue reading through the end to find out when it’s okay to use multiple prepositional phrases in a sentence, and when it may not be advised.

Modifying nouns

A common type of prepositional phrase modifies, or describes the noun of a sentence. In other words, these prepositional phrases act as adjectives. They are also called adjectival phrases. In the examples below, the prepositional phrases are in bold while their objects are underlined.

Ex. 1: The book in my backpack is quite heavy. (“in my backpack” modifies “the book”)

Ex. 2: You will find the restaurant between the bank and the post office. (“between the bank and the post office” modifies “the restaurant”)

Ex. 3: The dinner at 7 PM will have vegetarian options. (“at 7 PM” modifies “the dinner”)

Ex. 4: The discussion during class yesterday was interesting. (“during class yesterday” modifies “the discussion”)

Ex. 5: Last weekend I watched a documentary about ballet dancers. (“about ballet dancers” modifies “a documentary”)

What is a Prepositional Phrase? – Examples (Continued)

Ex. 6: The soup consists of five ingredients. (“of five ingredients” modifies “the soup”)

Ex. 7: My friend’s house, across the street from mine, has a large and colorful garden. (“across the street from mine” modifies “my friend’s house”)

Ex. 8: All of my courses, except for calculus, involve long written assignments. (“except for calculus” modifies “all of my courses”)

Ex. 9: The chocolate cake in the oven needs to bake for twenty more minutes. (“in the oven” modifies “the chocolate cake”

Ex. 10: The other day I received a letter regarding my last bank statement. (“regarding my last bank statement” modifies “a letter”)

Prepositional Phase Examples (Continued)

Modifying verbs

Just how a prepositional phrase modifying a noun might be referred to as an adjectival phrase, a prepositional phrase modifying a verb would be an adverbial phrase, since adverbs modify verbs. Here are a few examples:

Ex. 11: I walk the dog before sunset. (“before sunset” modifies “walk”)

Ex. 12: During lunch, she sat with two friends from class. (“during lunch” modifies “sat”)

Ex. 13: You should continue along Main Street and then turn right. (“along Main Street” modifies “continue”)

Ex. 14: The cat sleeps in front of the window. (“in front of the window” modifies “sleeps”)

Ex. 15: I bought the dress despite my mother’s advice. (“despite my mother’s advice” modifies “bought”)

What is a Prepositional Phrase? – Examples (Continued)

Ex. 16: I will cook the fish like I did last week. (“like I did last week” modifies “will cook”)

Ex. 17: He has been out running errands since this morning. (“since this morning” modifies “has been out running errands”)

Ex. 18: I might be late because I commute to work from outside of the city. (“from outside of the city” modifies “commute”)

Ex. 19: My sister chose to buy the green wallet instead of the red one. (“instead of the red one” modifies “chose to buy”)

Ex. 20: I practice violin every day, contributing to my goal of becoming first chair in the orchestra and earning a college scholarship. (Here’s a longer one: “contributing to my goal of becoming first chair in the orchestra and earning a college scholarship” modifies “practice”)

Prepositional Phase Examples (Continued)

Acting as nouns

Prepositional phrases can also act as nouns themselves. These prepositional phrases often come with “to be” verbs (is, was, were, will be) and therefore use passive voice instead of active voice, so you may want to use them sparingly. However, these phrases can be useful for describing where and when events occurred.

Ex. 21: On the first Friday of May is when I will graduate. (“On the first Friday of May” is the noun and subject of this sentence, while “is when I will graduate” acts as the verb)

Ex. 22: After dinner yesterday was when we saw the show. (“After dinner yesterday” acts as the noun and subject of this sentence, while “was when we saw the show” follows as the verb).

Ex. 23: Behind the house is a hammock. (“Behind the house” is the noun and “is a hammock” is the verb of this sentence)

Ex. 24: Beside the bed is where I keep my notebook and pen. (“Beside the bed” is the noun here, while “is where I keep my pen” is the verb)

Ex. 25: During the summer is the best time to visit the mountains. (“During the summer” acts as the noun and subject, while “is the best time to visit the mountains” acts as the verb)

Can sentences have multiple prepositional phrases?

While prepositional phrases are common, be careful not to use them in excess. While a sentence might be technically correct with multiple prepositional phrases, too many can become confusing.

Take for example a version of one of the sentences above:

  1. At the department store, in the accessory section during the wallet sale, my sister chose to buy the green wallet instead of the red one.

We might clarify this idea by breaking it up into two sentences:

My sister went to the department store’s accessory section for the wallet sale. After some consideration, she chose to buy the green wallet instead of the red one.

Here’s another example:

  1. During the summer when it isn’t too icy is the best time to visit the mountains in Colorado except for if you are going skiing.

And here’s an easier-to-read alternative, broken into two sentences:

I recommend visiting the Colorado mountains during the summer because the paths will not be as icy. However, if you plan to ski, the winter is a great time.

*Note: in this second example, I switched things around to make the voice active instead of passive, a move that can often clarify the point of the sentence.

As you can see from these examples, it can be confusing to read a sentence with too many prepositional phrases. If you think there could be too many but you’re not sure, there’s no harm in breaking the long sentence into two shorter ones.

What is a Prepositional Phrase? Final thoughts…

Here’s a quick review:

  • Prepositional phrases involve a preposition, an object, and words needed to modify that object.
  • Prepositional phrases often begin with prepositions, which can describe places, times, or ideas. Often, they put objects or ideas in relation to each other.
  • Prepositional phrases can function to modify nouns (adjectival), modify verbs (adverbial), or act as nouns.
  • Be careful not to use too many prepositional phrases in one sentence. If in doubt, break up that sentence!

We hope that you find these descriptions and examples helpful guide as you write prepositional phrases. For more tips on grammar and writing, check out this article on the 60 most common prefixes, and this one with on the 46 most common suffixes. You may also find these blogs to be of interest: