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Discovering the Object of a Preposition and Its Purpose

What is an object of a preposition? Words like on, at, and in are great at showing how words are connected to each other; their relationship. Even though these connecting words are simple to remember, they play a large role in structuring sentences. In fact, without these connecting words, it would be difficult to explain the relationship between one thing to another. You would have a much more difficult time explaining things like location, place, and time to someone else. It would also be more difficult to introduce people, places, and things.

Now that you know why these words are so important, let’s begin by learning some basic rules about connecting words before covering the object of a preposition. Firstly, connecting words often come in groups. As the role of these words is to connect verbs, nouns, and adjectives to pronouns or nouns, a connecting word needs many supporting words to help it function. Usually, you’ll find these connecting words before the noun or pronoun in a sentence. Take a look at this page to learn more about connecting words. Here are a few examples:

  • Jake walked across the bridge.
  • They’re bored of me today.

These standard examples of sentences contain two parts. First, there’s the subject. That’s the person or thing that completes an action. In the first example, the subject is Jake. The action he takes is to walk across a bridge. In the second example the pronoun they is the subject. The action they take is to be bored with someone.

You now know that the subject is the first part of your sentence. The second half is the predicate, which contains the verb that the subject is performing, as well as any modifying words, phrases, and clauses. In the examples above, the predicates are walked across the bridge and bored of me today. The verbs are walked and bored.

After the verb you have prepositional phrases. A prepositional phrase begins with a connecting word and ends with a noun, pronoun, gerund, or clause. It’s this final section of a sentence which brings you to the object of a preposition.

Before you learn about this, take a minute to learn about MLA format and research more styles of creating English citations!

What is the Object of a Preposition?

Most sentences that contain a connecting word will also contain a connecting phrase. The phrase section can have three parts overall. The one you’ll focus on is the ending. Usually, that’s where you’ll find the noun, pronoun, gerund, or clause. These four options typically act as the object of a preposition.

Commonly, it’s a noun or pronoun that either receives something or benefits from an action. For instance, when Jake walked across the bridge, it was the bridge that received the action of being walked on. Likewise, in the second example they’re bored of me today, you were the person to feel the impact of their boredom.

Therefore, a noun, pronoun, gerund, or clause that comes after the preposition and answers 'what' or 'whom' is the object of the preposition definition. This part of a sentence will come after a connecting word. Sometimes, there’s even more than one. You’ll find them in every sentence with a connecting phrase and most sentences with a connecting word. Itching to learn more? This further reading can help you learn about the different parts in the predicate.

The object of a preposition will also include any modifiers that arrive after a connecting word. These words add extra description to the noun or pronoun that’s receiving or benefitting from an action. Here are some examples:

  • In the moldy basement.

In is the connecting word. Moldy is a modifier. Basement is the noun.

  • Under the pink couch.

Under is the connecting word and pink further describes the couch.

  • Outside of the furniture store.

Outside shows a relationship. Furniture modifies the type of store that the speaker is referring to.

Now that you know a bit about connecting words, try to work them into your next writing assignment. You can then check your grammar and spelling with our helpful spell check tool! There's also a service that can help you create citations in APA format and other styles.

What is the Objective Case?

Nouns and pronouns have modified uses whenever they aren’t the subject of the sentence. Whenever a person, place, or thing is the direct or indirect object of the preposition, you modify each word using the objective case instead of the subjective case. This lets you tell whether a noun is a subject or an object.

When you are the subject of a sentence, you use the word I. However, when you’re referring to yourself and you’re not the subject, you use the word me. For instance:

  • I am going to the park today.

You are the person taking the action, or the subject of the sentence.

  • Are you going to the park with me?

You are not the main subject of the sentence, someone else is. Thus, you use don’t use the subjective version of the word.

When a boy or a girl are the subject of a sentence, you use the word he and she. To refer to a boy or girl when they aren’t the subject, you use the words him and her.

  • He is the lead actor in the upcoming school musical.

The word him doesn’t work in place of he, because he is the main subject.

  • She said that summertime is beautiful in the city.

Likewise, the word her wouldn’t work when she is the main subject.

  • She sat next to him.
  • He sat next to her.

She changes to her when a woman or girl isn’t spoken about subjectively. Note that not every word takes on a new form when it’s the object of the sentence. Pronouns such as you and it do not change. However, the pronoun who changes into whom, and whoever changes to whomever. These two words can be specifically tricky to learn.

Here are all the changes to pronouns that occur between the two forms:

Subjective Objective
I Me
You You
He Him
She Her
It It
We Us
They Them
Who Whom
Whoever Whomever

Object of a Preposition Common Pairing Mistakes

Pairs of words like he and him and she and her are fairly easy to use correctly. However, many people have trouble with certain combinations such as who and whom as well as me and I. Here are some object of the preposition examples that show these simple rules in action.

Who or Whom?

You use who when talking about the subject of sentence and whom when talking about the object or person that received the action. You’ll often find whom next to a preposition (such as with whom or to whom).

  • Who ate the rest of the popcorn?
  • To whom did Collin pass the popcorn?

Me or I?

I changes to me when it’s the object of the sentence.

  • You and I always have a lot of fun together.
  • Between you and me, I’m not sure he’s telling the truth.

Using the right form of the pronoun, whether objective or subjective, becomes easy when you understand the rules. With a little practice, you’ll never confuse the two again!