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Teacher/Instructor Katie Aquino
Katie Aquino

Writing, Grammar, Literature, ACT Prep
Education: M.Ed.,Stanford University

Katie is an enthusiastic teacher who strives to make connections between literature and student’s every day lives.

Prepositions show connections between a noun or pronoun to another word in the sentence. Prepositions can describe time, location, direction, or relationship and must be followed by an object. Recognize prepositions using different tricks.

Now we are going to tackle prepositions. And I always found prepositions a little bit difficult because they are really had to actually define or put your finger on. But the basics of a preposition, is that they show connections between a noun or pronoun in a sentence to another word. The kind of relationships that they show are time, location, direction and relationships. So they kind of hook things up in a sentence and show how the two things fit together.

One other thing to know about prepositions, is that they always take an object, which means they should always be followed by and object. When you put the two together, you’ve got your prepositional phrase. So let’s take a look at some tricks, tricks that will help you identify prepositions.

First thing, and I’d love to say that I came up with this, but this is a school-house rock thing. They are called the busy P’s, and the reason they are called the busy P’s is because they are used all the time. And the reason we use prepositions, is they give a little bit more detail. They add some description into clauses and to phrases to help things be a little bit more clear.

Like I said, they are often difficult to find. Not only the actual word preposition, but when we look at some of these example words: after, as, before, at, above: any of these things, if someone asked you to actually define one of these words, it’s a little bit difficult. So that’s one key that you might be looking at a preposition.

And like I said, they always take an object. So if we take a look at these two example sentences, the parking lot was full of cars. We’ve got one preposition here, the word 'of' and it's showing the relationship between these cars, which is the object or the proposition of, to the rest of the sentence.

If we take a look here we’ve got the sentence I drove around looking for a parking spot. Now on first glance, this sentence looks like it’s got two prepositions here. We’ve seen the word around and that kind of shows the relationship of direction. And we’ve seen the 'word for' but we’ve got a double check here. So if we have this word 'for' and we think it’s a preposition we’ve got to make sure it takes an object. And it does it takes the object, a parking lot, that’s an idiom after it. And it connects the parking lot to the set of the sentence.

Our other gut instinct may be to you look at the word 'around'. We might think it’s a preposition and many times it can be used as a preposition, but we’ve got to double check and see if it's followed by an object. So here if we look at the word following around, it's looking. That’s a verb, there’s no object there, so actually here around is being used as an adverb; describing the way somebody drove.

So you’ve got to be careful with some of those tricky ones. Let’s see if we can do this on our own. See you’ve got this sentence here. At a time when most of the retail industry is in recovery, a star has emerged, the outlet mall. So let’s start breaking down some of those prepositions that show direction. So the first clue that we have, is they are talking about time. And we know the preposition show time relationships. We’ve got this word 'at'. It’s a hard word to define and it's followed by an object, a time.

So if somebody asked you about this prepositional phrase, you would tell them the phrase is at a time. So there is our first preposition. Moving on, I’ve got when most of the retail industry. 'Of' is another one of those words that shows relationship.

Its object is 'the retail industry'. So we’ve got another prepositional phrase there. 'In' shows that relationship and it's 'in recovery' followed by an object, so we know that’s a preposition. And we’ve got all those there. So now you can take a look at how to use different words that’s hard to put, cutting your finger on describe what they actually are. But once they do a lot of work, and show a lot of relationships, you can get them down as prepositions.