If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content
Current time:0:00Total duration:5:38

Video transcript

hey grammarians let's talk about prepositional phrases and what they are and how they're used their care and feeding you know so a prepositional phrase simply speaking is anything that follows a preposition frankly so if we look at the sentence Danielle blew the horn with the strength of a giant quick little doodle there there's Danielle blowing the horn with the strength of a giant so this part with the strength of a giant is a prepositional phrase actually it's two prepositional phrases because there's with the strength and then of a giant what is a prepositional phrase it is a word chunk that begins with a preposition so with is a preposition of as a preposition and this entire thing with the strength of a giant is one prepositional phrase all together composed of two smaller ones and what's cool is you can use prepositional phrases in a couple of different ways you can use them as nouns you can use them as adverbs and you can use them as adjectives so we've got two different examples here just even within this first this first sentence here so so Danielle blew the horn with the strength of a giant how did she blow the horn with the strength of a giant right so she blew the horn with the strength of a giant so with the strength of a giant um this prepositional phrase is modifying the verb blew and when you can really see like she's her hair is being blown back just by the strength of this like right so so this whole thing together is being treated as an adverb but if we look at the word strength strength is being modified by of a giant so this is a noun right the word strength is a noun but this of a giant thing is modifying it so this part is actually behaving as an adjective kind of cool right let's look at some more examples to steal the Queen's diamonds would be a terrible crime this is actually something we'd call in addition to being a prepositional phrase this is something we'd call an infinitive the verb to steal when it's presented like this with the to form never conjugates it's not affected by time so it's kind of infinitive and infinite but we're treating this whole thing as a noun right because to steal the Queen's diamonds is kind of all being considered one thing this big old prepositional phrase would write to steal the Queen's diamonds would be a terrible crime so this prepositional phrase is acting like a noun let's try another one I don't know that is I just made it up but it let's pay attention to how the prepositional phrase of glass works in the rest of the sentence you know what what part of this is it attached to it's not I of glass or enjoy of glass it's the Cathedral of glass and that means that this of glass thing is describing Cathedral a Cathedral is a place or a structure so it's a noun right so if of glass is modifying this noun that would make it an adjective so of glass here this prepositional phrase is behaving like an adjective prepositional phrases can be really powerful and really elegant and really cool like in Hamlet in the to be or not to be speech Hamlet describes death as the undiscovered country from whose Bourn no traveler returns and Bourn is an early modern English word meaning like boundary what Hamlet is saying in the soliloquy is that death is a mystery and people don't come back from it and I think that's like a really powerful use of a prepositional phrase right all of this is describing country in a way that undiscovered is also doing so country is is being modified from both sides which is really cool and it imbues the word country with a really strange power but you have to be careful because you can set yourself up for a lot of ambiguity with prepositional phrases you may remember this terrible joke from Mary Poppins one man says all new a man with a wooden leg named Smith other guy says but what was the name of his other leg right it's it's silly but it's it's a good way to indicate where confusion can arise with prepositional phrases you know so I would I would say generally that the solution to a problem like this is to just put the named Smith part earlier in the sentence I knew a man named Smith who had a wooden leg maybe lose the prepositional phrase that solves the problem what I'm trying to say is prepositional phrases are very powerful but you have to be careful about how you use them because if you're not careful you can create confusion or ambiguity anyway you can learn anything sorry for the terrible cockney accent David out