The Phrase

A phrase does not contain a complete subject and a complete verb.

1. It may have a complete subject and no verb.


2. It may have no subject and a complete verb.


3. It may have a complete subject and a half verb.


4. It may have no subject and a half verb.


5. It may have no subject and no verb.


Prepositional Phrases

Prepositional phrases begin with a preposition and end with a noun or pronoun object.


(In an earlier part) (of this century), a seventeen-year-old Hawaiian girl married a young man (of Chinese descent) and was denied the right to take calabashes and quilted heirlooms (to her new home) (in Honolulu) (as a result) (of her controversial marriage) (to a man) (of another race).

  • Prepositional phrases provide extra information in a sentence.

  • They answer questions like how, what, when, where, who, and why.

A sentence can end with a preposition.

  • Sometimes it has to in order to make sense.


Ashamed of not having a quilt to cover her bed, the young woman went to a local store and bought materials for the purpose of making one but had no pattern to make it with.

Note: In the preceding example, to make it is not identified as a prepositional phrase since make is a verb.

To directly followed by a verb plus a noun or pronoun object creates a verb phrase.


  • to cover her bed

  • to make it

To followed by a noun or pronoun creates a prepositional phrase.


  • to a local store

There is also an implied prepositional phrase.

  • The implied preposition is the word of.


With all (the other young married women) displaying handsewn quilts to their friends, the humiliated young bride felt isolated from her peers.

The implied prepositional phrase is of the married women.

Single Word Prepositions

  • Here is a partial list of common prepositions.

  • They will help you to identify prepositional phrases.

afterbefore butfromoffthroughupon

A prepositional phrase may begin with a group preposition with multiple words.


After going to bed one night and dreaming about a fresh new design, the young woman got (out of her bed)(due to her desire) to capture the essence of her idea (in accordance with her dream) and (in spite of the lack) of a pre-drawn paper pattern proceeded to cut her motif (out of colored cloth) in order to baste it onto the background material before going back to sleep.

Group Prepositions

  • Here is a partial list of group prepositions.

  • They will also help you to identify prepositional phrases.

according toby means ofin accordance withinstead of
ahead ofby way ofin addition toon account of
as forcontrary toin favor ofout of
as todue toin front ofrather than
as well asexcept forin place oftogether with
aside fromexclusive ofinside ofwith reference to
because offor the sake ofin spite ofwith the exception of

A prepositional phrase will usually not be the subject of a sentence.

  • Here is a rare exception that breaks that rule.


O Pua, of Pua, was said by the woman helping her married friend to finish her dream inspired quilt by giving it the full name of Ka La'i o Pua meaning The Calm of Pua Lane.

  • In this case, the prepositional phrase (O Pua) or (of Pua ) is the subject of a main clause.

  • Therefore, it functions as the subject of the Simple Sentence.