Today we’re going to talk a little bit about prepositions, the part of grammar which – for reasons of which I’m not entirely certain – is where my love of grammar first began.
To put it simply, prepositions are words (or phrases) which further define the relationship between a noun/pronoun in a statement and, well, some other element in the statement. This might be easiest to explain with some examples.
The cow jumped over the moon
James, eat your veggies before dessert.
I baked that pie with my bare hands.
All of these examples use prepositions to define the actions of the nouns. If you can recall back to my article about grammar being like a train, you’ll remember that a statement is complete as long as it has a subject and a verb. That being said, we know that, “The cow jumped; James, eat your veggies; and I baked that pie,” are all complete sentences – they just have extra boxcars attached. Those boxcars are attached with the prepositions over, before, and with, and as I mentioned before, they’re used to further define the actions of the noun. Most commonly, prepositions answer the questions, “Who, what, when, where, and/or how?”
The cow jumped (over the moon).
Where did the cow jump? Over the moon.
James, eat your veggies (before dessert).
When must James eat his veggies? Before dessert.
I baked that pie (with my bare hands).
How did I bake that pie? With my bare hands.
Altogether, the English language contains roughly 150 prepositions, and many function as other pieces of grammar, too. I won’t list out all of them, but now that you know the definition, spotting them should be a little easier for you. Here’s something else you should know if writing is something you’d like to seriously pursue: avoid ending sentences with prepositions (called a dangling preposition). In short sentences, it’s not a big deal, but in long sentences with multiple nouns, dangling prepositions can be difficult to assign to one in particular, and your meaning can be lost. Can you think of a time when a dangling preposition confused you?
Samuel Blake ǀ @herheart_oncraft
Her Heart Poetry’s ON CRAFT area will be evolving over the coming months. Samuel’s goal is to both educate and inspire readers and writers of all calibres. ON CRAFT articles will be published to teach about a different facet of creative writing.