Traditional notional grammars define prepositions as words that “link to other words, phrases, and clauses” and that “express spatial or temporal relations.” A Prepositional phrase is a phrase that consists of a preposition plus another word, phrase, or clause functioning as the prepositional complement.
In grammar, a prepositional complement is a word, phrase, or clause that directly follows a preposition and complete the meaning of the prepositional phrase. Although nouns, pronouns, and noun phrases most frequently perform the function, prepositional phrases sometimes, although infrequently, function as indirect objects in English. Examples of prepositional phrases as prepositional complements include the following:
- My siblings always nose around in my bedroom.
- She mused about under our beds.
- The maid gawked at behind the refrigerator.
- The secret agent is spying on inside the boardroom.
- She is worrying about in the morning.
Prepositional phrases often function as the prepositional complement of prepositional verbs.
Brinton, Laurel J. & Donna M. Brinton. 2010. The linguistic structure of Modern English, 2nd edn. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Hopper, Paul J. 1999. A short course in grammar. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
Huddleston, Rodney. 1984. Introduction to the grammar of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.