Sentence Structure

Prepositional Phrases in Space and Time Order

In Part 2 of this unit, you learned about prepositional phrases. Now you will learn how to use them in sentences to improve your writing style.

Prepositional phrases are used to show space order and time order. In a space-order paragraph, you can use prepositional phrases to show where the people or objects that you are describing are located: on the left, on the top shelf, in the center drawer, next to the window.

You can also use prepositional phrases in time-order paragraphs to show the order of events or steps: at last, after an earthquake, during the war, until recently, before sunrise, at 12:00.

0Q331HSH Work with a partner or by yourself. Prepositional

Phrases as Sbace 1' Tum l3ack 1:0 73 an<^read the model paragraph "The Shared Refrig-and Time-Order' erator" again.

Signals 2. Put parentheses () around the prepositional phrases of place.

Position of



Prepositional phrases of time and place can be in different places in a sentence. They can be at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end of a sentence. Changing the location of a prepositional phrase can improve your writing. A paragraph can be boring if every sentence follows the same subject-verb-object pattern. If you sometimes begin a sentence with a prepositional phrase, your writing style will be more interesting.

Usual pattern: The view from my bedroom window is especially beautiful in the fall.

New pattern: In the fall, the view from my bedroom window is especially beautiful.

or: From my bedroom window, the view is especially beautiful in the fall.

Usual pattern: New pattern:

Leaves of many colors litter the grass outside my window. Outside my window, leaves of many colors litter the grass.

Moving a prepositional phrase is also possible in sentences containing there is or there are.

Usual pattern: New pattern:

Usual pattern: New pattern:

There is a large park next to my house. Next to my house, there is a large park.

There are several kinds of trees in the park. In the park, there are several kinds of trees.

Notice that you must put a comma after a prepositional phrase that comes at the beginning of a sentence.

Sometimes a prepositional phrase of place and the subject of the sentence can just exchange places. This happens when the sentence contains only a subject (S), a verb, and a prepositional phrase. In this case, don't use a comma.

Usual pattern: Two 14.000-foot mountains rise in the background.

New pattern: In the background rise two 14.000-foot mountains.

Usual pattern: Soft white clouds rest on the tops of the mountains.

New pattern: On the tops of the mountains rest soft white clouds.

You cannot move all prepositional phrases. You can only move those that tell a time or a location.

I can't remember the name of our teacher. Not possible: Of our teacher, I can't remember the name.

The man in the dark blue suit is a world-famous boxer. Not possible: In the dark blue suit, the man is a world famous boxer.

Possible (time): In the summer, the weather is hot and humid in my country.

Possible (location): In my country, the weather is hot and humid in the summer.

Work with a partner.

I. Put parentheses () around all prepositional phrases.

1. Put a comma after prepositional phrases of time and place that are in front of the subject of the sentence. Don't put a comma after those that are in front of the verb.


My favorite place(on the campus)(of our school)is the lawn(jn front of the library.^During my free periods^I like to go there to relax and talk(with friends.)

1. In the center of the lawn is a fountain.

2. Water splashes from the fountain onto some rocks around it.

3. The sound of the splashing water reminds me of a place in the mountains.

4. Near the fountain stands a group of tall redwood trees.

5. Under the trees there are wooden benches and tables.

6. On warm days students sit at the tables in the shade of the trees to eat their lunches.

7. The chatter of the students makes studying almost impossible.

8. After lunch it becomes quiet again in my special spot under the trees.


Identifying and Moving Prepositional Phrases

A. Work with a partner.

1. Find and put parentheses around all prepositional phrases in the following sentences. Some sentences do not contain any.

2. Move one prepositional phrase of time or place to the front of each sentence.

3. Rewrite the sentence in the new pattern, and add commas where necessary.


There is a perfect place to spend a honeymoon (in Puerto Vallarta^

In Puerto Vallarta, there is a perfect place to spend a honeymoon._

1. The Hotel Las Brisas has many small cottages, or little houses.

2. There is a high wall around each cottage.

3. A small, private swimming pool is inside the wall.

4. Three rooms are inside each cottage: a bedroom, a bathroom, and a sit' ting room.

5. There is also a sunny balcony outside the sitting room.

6. The hotel staff bring you to your cottage upon your arrival.

7. They leave you alone until your departure.

8. There is no better place for romance and privacy than the Hotel Las Brisas.

B. Work by yourself or with a partner. Improve this paragraph by moving some of the prepositional phrases of place to the beginning of their sentences.

1. First, put parentheses around all prepositional phrases.

2. Then rewrite the paragraph. Move three or four of the prepositional phrases. Do not change every sentence. Change only a few of them in order to make the writing style more interesting.

The View from my Window 'The view from my bedroom window is especially beautiful in the fall. 2 Two 14,000-foot mountains rise in the background. Soft white clouds rest on the mountaintops. 3A few apples still hang from the apple trees in the distant orchard, but the branches of the other fruit trees are bare. 4The vegetable garden is next to the garage. sThe last tomatoes of the year hang from their vines. 6Fat orange pumpkins rest on the ground waiting to be picked to make Halloween jack-o'-lanterns/ 7The leaves on the trees outside my window have turned a thousand different colors: red, orange, yellow, gold, rust, and purple. 8Squirrels are making noise in the trees. 'They are busy collecting food for the winter. I0I enjoy the view from my window in every season of the year, but I especially enjoy it in the fall.


1. Which sentences in the paragraph above are compound?

2. What kind of space order is used in this description?

top to bottom bottom to top right to left left to right outside to inside inside to outside far to near near to far

"Halloween jack-o'-lanterns: decorations made from pumpkins for the American celebration called Halloween (October 31). Faces are cut into empty pumpkins and candles are placed inside them. The lighted candles make the "faces" glow at night.

review practice:

Periods, Commas, and Capital Letters

Work with a partner. Add periods, commas, and capital letters to the following paragraphs.

Paragraph I

the neat desk my roommate's desk is completely neat her pens and pencils are lined up in straight rows and her pencils all have sharp points her paper clips rubber bands and erasers are in small drawers each drawer has a label on it on top of her desk there is a box with four shelves one shelf is for unpaid bills one is for paid bills one is for unanswered letters and one is for answered letters i sometimes think she spends more time keeping her desk neat than she spends doing her homework m j

Paragraph 2

the messy desk the top of my desk is always a mess papers and books are lying everywhere at least five empty coca-cola cans are sitting on the desk broken pencils are scattered on top of it and on the floor under it the wastebasket next to my desk is full of used notebook paper empty potato chip bags and rotten banana peels eleven copies of skin diving magazine and nine copies of computer world are under the pile of books and papers you can't see the top of the desk because of the mess

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