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Using Prepositional Phrases as Indirect Objects

Traditional notional grammars define prepositions as words that “link to other words, phrases, and clauses” and that “express spatial or temporal relations.” Prepositional phrases are phrases that consist of a preposition plus another word, phrase, or clause functioning as the prepositional complement.

In grammar, an indirect object is a word, phrase, or clause that indicates to or for whom or what the action of a ditransitive verb is performed. Although nouns, pronouns, and noun phrases most frequently perform the function, prepositional phrases sometimes, although rarely, function as indirect objects in English. Examples of prepositional phrases as indirect objects include the following:

  • The maid gave inside the refrigerator a thorough scrubbing.
  • My mom has given behind the freezer a good scrubbing.
  • The decorator is giving inside the closet some serious consideration.
  • My brother should give under his bed some thought.

References

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.

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