Prepositional Phrases and Your Writing

prepositionsPrepositions and prepositional phrases.

Have you ever noticed how wonderful they are? They provide us a sense of our characters’ position and place relative to the rest of the world. They allow us to go with them around the bend in the road, over the fence, and beyond the shabby hot dog stand that sits beside the muddy swamp.

As you can see, prepositions modify a noun or a verb, while adding intrigue and detail to your poetry or prose. Prepositional phrases build worlds.

Kerrin McCadden, Vermont teacher and poet, says prepositional phrases build energy into your piece, prose or poetry, too, and is the place where authors can show their signature voice. She says prepositional phrases are “the places where language can deliver imagination.” That makes sense since prepositions show the spatial relationship of one thing to another. They really do help you build a world.

How fun are prepositions? Similes, which can add a creative bent to your writing, are prepositional phrases. Prepositions are also called function words—they have not changed over the course of our language’s history, unlike nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs, which we add more of to the dictionary every year, and existing ones have been known to morph over time.

Let’s do a short exercise. Use the cheat sheet offered on this page for a list of common prepositions. Write a paragraph whose sentences are one prepositional phrase after another without the modifier. It will be an open-ended piece, but read it out loud when done. You’ll notice some interesting things that the phrases do. And when you’re done, share your piece in the comments. Happy writing!

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