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Using Prepositional Phrases as Subjects

Prepositions are defined by traditional grammars as a word that “links to other words, phrases, and clauses” and that “expresses spatial or temporal relations.” A prepositional phrase consists of a preposition plus another word, phrase, or clause functioning as the prepositional complement.

In grammar, a subject is a word, phrase, or clause that performs the action of or acts upon the verb. Although nouns including pronouns and noun phrases most frequently perform the function, prepositional phrases sometimes, although rarely, function as subjects in English. Examples of prepositional phrases as subjects include the following:

  • Behind the machine shed needs mowed.
  • Before ten is a bad time to call him.
  • Under the freezer is absolutely disgusting!
  • Between seven and nine is when employees must arrive.
  • Inside the freezer is dark and cold.
  • Next to the shed is overgrown with weeds.


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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