GM: Identifying and Diagramming Prepositional Phrases

If we are to be masters of grammar, we must be able to identify and use prepositional phrases. Prepositional phrases are everywhere. We use them everyday at school, at home, at our friend’s house, in the kitchen, in the living room, at the library, near the club, outside the hotel…

What you must do


  • Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
  • Use various types of phrases (noun, verb, adjectival, adverbial, participial, prepositional, absolute) and clauses (independent, dependent; noun, relative, adverbial) to convey specific meanings and add variety and interest to writing or presentations.
  • Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.


As with our previous grammar worksheets, you will be assigned one or two worksheets. I will review the worksheets with you in class and provide you with the answers to the odd numbered questions. You will then take a test on the even numbered questions.

  • The assigned worksheet(s) with ONLY the odd numbered questions completed
    • Complete them when and as directed


This unit has several different worksheets because prepositional phrases are so diverse and useful. Please, make sure that you follow the instructions on each worksheet and bring it to class when and as instructed. You will be tested on the evens the next day in class.

What I would do…

  1. I would print two copies of each worksheet
  2. I would complete the odds and evens on one copy
  3. I would review my work and try to find errors
  4. I would correct the errors on the odds on the fresh copy and bring it to class – leave the evens blank

All about prepositional phrases

If I were to ask you to go into the kitchen and bake me a prepositional phrase, what ingredients would you need?

Directions for baking a prepositional phrase


  • 1 (one) preposition – it can be big or small
  • 1 (one) noun or pronoun

For an extra spicy prepositional phrase:

  • 1 (one) or more modifiers


  1. write the preposition
  2. add the noun or pronoun after the preposition

For a spicier prepositional phrase:

  1. Add one or more modifiers to the noun or pronoun

Some prepositional phrases…

…at school

…from China

…in buildings

…for the dirty, nasty, crazy street dogs

…inside the beautiful crystal palace

Get your prepositions here!

Get the first ingredient! Get a preposition!

    • about
    • above
    • across
    • after
    • against
    • along
    • among
    • around
    • at
    • before
    • behind
    • below
    • beneath
    • beside
    • between
    • beyond
    • but
    • by


  • despite
  • down
  • during
  • except
  • for
  • from
  • in
  • inside
  • into
  • like
  • near
  • of
  • off
  • on
  • onto
  • out
  • outside
  • over
  • past
  • since
  • through
  • throughout
  • till
  • to
  • toward
  • under
  • underneath
  • until
  • up
  • upon
  • with
  • within
  • without

How to use prepositional phrases

The great thing about prepositional phrases is how versatile they are in a sentence. They can modify just about anything. Check it out. Here’s the same prepositional phrase in three different parts of the sentence (I’ve highlighted the prepositional phrase in purple).

Example 1: Modifying the direct object

Subject | Verb | Indirect Ob. | Direct Ob. | Prep. Phrase

The boy gave my friend the fuzzy chicken from the farm.

Prepositional phrase modifying the direct object

Prepositional phrase modifying the direct object

Example 2: Modifying the subject

Subject | Prep. Phrase | Verb | Indirect Ob. | Direct Ob.

The boy from the farm gave my friend the fuzzy chicken.

Prepositional phrase modifying the subject

Prepositional phrase modifying the subject

Example 3: Modifying the indirect object

Subject | Verb | Indirect Ob. | Prep. Phrase | Direct Ob.

The boy gave my friend from the farm the fuzzy chicken.

Prepositional phrase modifying the indirect object

Prepositional phrase modifying the indirect object

If you want more, please see Prepositions: The Basics.

Diagramming the prepositional phrase

Prepositional phrases always have at least two lines: one for the preposition and one for the object of the preposition (noun or pronoun).

Diagramming the prepositional phrase

Diagramming the prepositional phrase

Because prepositions modify other words, they are always placed under the words they modify – just like any modifier. If the object of the preposition, which is always a noun or pronoun, has any modifiers, then they go beneath it – just like any modifier.

Subject | Prepositional Phrase | Verb | Prepositional Phrase

The monster from Tanzania slept in my brother’s room.

Prepositional phrases have three parts

Prepositional phrases have three parts: Prepositions, Objects, and (sometimes) Modifiers

Don’t forget, prepositional phrases are very versatile; they can show up just about anywhere in a sentence.

The worksheets

You can find the worksheets here:

Prepositional Phrase Practice Sheets

Some helpful videos

Video #1: Babyish but good

Video #2: Informative with odd chin hair

Video #3: My hero: Mr. Toth

Advanced student section

The following information is not required to pass my class, but some of you may be interested in it.

For advanced students only!

Compound prepositions

I don’t expect you to master these, but I want you to be aware of them as you are already using them. Compound prepositions are groups of prepositions that work together as one preposition (similar to how groups of verbs work together to create verb phrases).

To be honest, I don’t have a tried and true way of identifying these guys. I’ve heard some teachers say they occur when you have two prepositions working together. This method only applies to some compound prepositions as you’ll see below.

Suffice it to say, you’ll know one when you see one. This is one of the reasons that I teach diagramming. Diagramming allows us to dissect the sentence into individual parts that, if done correctly, will fit into a prescribed mold. If the word doesn’t fit, then you might want to revise your sentence.

Common compound prepositions

  • according to
    • My leg is not broken according to my physician.
  • because of
    • My leg is broken because of the fall.
  • in front of
    • My leg was broken in front of the school.
  • instead of
    • My leg was broken instead of my foot.
  • in spite of
    • I fell in spite of my grace.
  • next to
    • My leg was broken next to the farm.
  • as of
    • My leg was broken as of yesterday.
  • out of
    • Out of all the teachers who fell, only I broke my leg.
  • in place of
    • My leg was broken in place of my hip.
  • in regard to
    • In regard to your question about your leg, yes, it is broken.
  • along with
    • My leg was broken along with my hip.
  • in case of
    • In case of a broken leg, see a doctor.
  • except for
    • Except for my broken leg, I am feeling quite well.
  • up to
    • I have experience up to 100 broken legs.

Diagramming compound prepositions

When you diagram a compound preposition, you place the entire compound preposition on the preposition line – similar to compound verbs.

My leg is broken because of the fall.

Diagramming a compound preposition

Diagramming the compound preposition “because of”

My leg was broken in front of the school.

Diagramming the compound preposition "in front of"

Diagramming the compound preposition “in front of”

My leg is broken according to my physician.

Diagramming the compound preposition "according to"

Diagramming the compound preposition “according to”

Common Core

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.4 Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based ongrades 9–10 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.4a Use context (e.g., the overall meaning of a sentence, paragraph, or text; a word’s position or function in a sentence) as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.4b Identify and correctly use patterns of word changes that indicate different meanings or parts of speech (e.g., analyze, analysis, analytical; advocate, advocacy).
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.4c Consult general and specialized reference materials (e.g., dictionaries, glossaries, thesauruses), both print and digital, to find the pronunciation of a word or determine or clarify its precise meaning, its part of speech, or its etymology.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.4d Verify the preliminary determination of the meaning of a word or phrase (e.g., by checking the inferred meaning in context or in a dictionary).
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.5 Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.5a Interpret figures of speech (e.g., euphemism, oxymoron) in context and analyze their role in the text.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.5b Analyze nuances in the meaning of words with similar denotations.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.6 Acquire and use accurately general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.
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12 Responses to “GM: Identifying and Diagramming Prepositional Phrases”

  1. cayleigh September 9, 2013 at 5:13 pm #

    on the worksheet ” the proposition” for number 1 would i underline in AND the or just in

  2. Ashley Shaw September 10, 2013 at 7:29 pm #

    I am having problems with doing prepositional phrases b, and was wondering if you could help me during breakfast.

  3. Ashley Shaw September 10, 2013 at 7:31 pm #

    Mr. Clements, tomorrow during breakfast could you help me with worksheet B ?

    • Mr. Clements September 10, 2013 at 8:56 pm #

      We can talk about it in class. You won’t be tested on B tomorrow.

  4. Ibrahim Javaid September 10, 2013 at 9:20 pm #

    Hello Mr. Clements,

    In the advanced student section I noticed two things.

    Shouldn’t there be a half slanted line on the second diagraming example after was?
    “My leg was broken in front of the school.”

    Also, on the third diagram, did you mean to put “My peg is broken according to my physician.” ?
    Shouldn’t it be leg?

    Sorry to bother you so late.

    • Mr. Clements September 10, 2013 at 9:44 pm #

      Good stuff, Ibrahim.

      Bonus point.

      The subject complement line to which you refer isn’t displayed in the second example because, I assume, the sentence diagrammer read “was broken” as a verb phrase (like “he has broken 15 legs” – in this case, “was broken” is a verb, and it is giving you a direct object, 15 legs).

      The sentence diagrammer is a great tool, but we really have to watch it because it doesn’t understand context.

      Luckily, this issue of a missing subject complement line shouldn’t get in the way of the lesson about compound prepositions.

      Regarding your other discovery, yes, I meant to write leg, not peg.

      I’ll change it immediately.

  5. Kiyanla Williams September 18, 2013 at 8:31 pm #

    On the preposition worksheet im an confused on number 2 may you please help me?

    • Mr. Clements September 18, 2013 at 8:43 pm #

      What’s tripping you up? The verb? Subject? Modifiers?

  6. Kiyanla Williams September 18, 2013 at 8:46 pm #

    I think its the modifiers.

    • Mr. Clements September 18, 2013 at 9:23 pm #

      If you’re talking about the page titled “The Preposition,” then you’ve picked a good one because #2 is a complex sentence; it has a main (independent clause) and a secondary (dependent clause).

      The main clause is:

      Pres. TJ suggested (x).

      “(X)” is where our dependent clause comes into play. Our dependent clause is a noun clause. It is the direct object to the verb “suggested.”

      Obviously, there’s no prep phrase in the main clause.

      Our dependent clause begins with the noun clause starter word “that.” We can forget about it because it’s just a filler word, so I’ll leave it out:

      Lewis find a northwest passage to the ocean.

      Lewis is going to find something called a passage. What kind of verb function is that? With what are you left?

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