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Using Prepositional Phrases as Direct Objects

Using Prepositional Phrases as Direct Objects

Notional grammars traditionally 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 direct object is a word, phrase, or clause that follows and receives the action of a transitive verb. Although nouns, pronouns, and noun phrases most frequently perform the function, prepositional phrases sometimes, although rarely, function as direct objects in English. Examples of prepositional phrases as direct objects include the following:

  • You must organize under the bed.
  • Her sister is painting along the ceiling.
  • My grandfather scrubbed behind the freezer.
  • I will decorate on top of the roof.

Prepositional Phrase as Direct Object

Prepositional Phrase as Direct Object Grammar Tree



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.


Written by Heather Johnson

Heather is a writer, librarian, linguist, wife, and mother who loves her husband, children, dogs, and cats. She has a bachelor's degree in English with a minor in creative writing and master's degrees in library and information science and English studies with a concentration in linguistics.

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