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Using Pronouns as Prepositional Complements

Traditional grammars define nouns as words that refer to people, places, things, and ideas. A subcategory of nouns, pronouns are words that take the place of nouns, noun phrases, noun clauses, and other grammatical forms. A noun phrase is a phrase that consists of a noun including a pronoun plus any modifiers, complements, or determiners.

In grammar, a prepositional complement is a word, phrase, or clause that directly follows a preposition and completes the meaning of the prepositional phrase. In addition to nouns, pronouns also frequently function as prepositional complements in English. Examples of pronouns as prepositional complements include the following:

  • The buffalo charged right at me. (personal pronoun)
  • A huge storm is moving towards you. (personal pronoun)
  • The cake decorator needs more icing for those. (demonstrative pronoun)
  • I cannot live without that. (demonstrative pronoun)
  • You want sixteen straws for what? (interrogative pronoun)
  • By whom did you set the cupcakes? (interrogative pronoun)
  • Sarah Palin is an international relations genius according to no one. (indefinite pronoun)
  • Give the roses to somebody special. (indefinite pronoun)


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.

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