Object of preposition

Definition of objects of preposition

The object of a preposition is the noun, noun phrase, pronoun or gerund that completes the prepositional phrase. It is also known as the complement. Without it, there is no preposition.

The minimum required for a prepositional phrase is a preposition and a complement, e.g. to me or to you. If you want to flesh out the phrase with some more detail (and why wouldn’t you?), then the other words that you include are modifiers. Even the humble a or the add more detail to the object of the preposition and are therefore modifiers.

I emerged unscathed from the crime-ridden, violent city.

The sentence above features the prepositional phrase from the crime-ridden, violent city, which can be broken down into preposition (from), complement (city) and modifiers (the, crime-ridden, and violent).

Sometimes, it might seem like there is a subject in the preposition, but this is never the case: for example, in the sentence neither of these men have your money, neither is the subject, not the other noun, men.

Pronoun object of preposition

Complements of prepositions are always in the objective case, which means that the pronouns her, him, me, us, them, etc. are used. This might make prepositions themselves easier to spot in a sentence. This will also help the speaker (or writer) identify whom as the correct complement after a preposition (To whom should I address this letter of complaint?), although questions often leave the preposition dangling at the end.

If you find yourself unsure whether to use Dave and I or Dave and me in a sentence, look for a helpful preposition: if Dave follows any preposition, it should be Dave and me, as in the travel agent booked the flights for Dave and me. It might be that you do not need to feature Dave or his companion in your writing at all, but that is a different matter. (Poor Dave.)

Other objects of prepositions (examples underlined) include nominal clauses (we’re talking about how often the price of eggs have gone up since last year), gerunds (I’ve been dreaming about swimming) and adjectival phrases (things are going from bad to worse). Sometimes the phrase is adverbial, which results in one preposition apparently following another: for example, take thy beak from out my heart, in which only from is in a prepositional spot.

Position of the complement

The preposition will normally appear immediately before the complement in the text (under the table, during the terrible weather), but occasionally it will appear at the end of the sentence, such as in a question (what do you want that for?) or an infinitive clause (a book of rules to live by).

Examples of objects of preposition

Prepositional phrase Preposition Complement Modifier(s)
back of the net of net the
into an ecstatic state into state an, ecstatic
in spite of all I’ve done in spite of all I’ve done (phrase)  –