Before there were prepositional phrases, there were prepositions – quite literally. Even the word preposition contains a preposition – the pre- at the beginning describing its position in front of the noun or noun equivalent it governs. Some grammarians prefer to use the term adposition, as there are prepositions that also appear after and even around the complement, but they are mostly in other languages.
If words like up, on or around do not have a complement, then there are not prepositions. The difference may seem subtle at first, but it is quite clear.
Status Quo have been playing around the UK for over fifty years contains two prepositional phrases (around the UK, and for over fifty years), whereas Status Quo have been playing around does not, because the around there is part of the phrasal verb playing around.
If you are unsure about whether or not you have a preposition on your hands, move the potential prepositional phrase to the start of the sentence and see if it still makes sense.
Off the cliff-face she blew me sounds a little strange, but still makes sense. Off the blind date she blew because she was tired does not.
List of examples of prepositions
|against||beyond||in front of||outside||up|
|around||by||in spite of||past||up to|
|before||during||Near||Throughout||with regard to|
|behind||except||Of||To||with respect to|