A prepositional phrase
is, in languages
with prepositions, a phrase
is a preposition
. For example:
- To the store1
- From the house
- Under the fence
In languages with postpositions, the morpheme
that corresponds to an English preposition occurs after its complement
. (They could therefore be referred to as "postpositional phrases".
) For example, Basque
, Finnish Japanese
etc would have literal translations of the above examples akin to:
- The store to
- The house from
- The fence under
Note that we treat "The X"
as a single component
in these examples.
Prepositional phrases generally act as complements and adjuncts of noun phrases and verb phrases. For example:
- The cat from China was ill. (Adjunct of a noun phrase)
- She ran under him. (Adjunct of a verb phrase)
- He gave money to the cause. (Oblique complement of a verb phrase)
- A student of physics. (Complement of a noun phrase)
- She argued with him. (Complement of a verb phrase)
A prepositional phrase should not be confused with the object
of a phrasal verb
, as in turn on the light
. Though they appear superficially similar, they are syntactically distinct constructions.
See also noun phrase, verb phrase, linguistics, transformational-generative grammar; structural linguistics, syntax, semantics.
1. Prepositional "to" as used here is semantically and syntactically different from "to" used as a verbal auxiliary in English infinitival constructions (see also infinitive).