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Using Verbs and Verb Phrases as Prepositional Complements

Verbs are traditionally defined by notional grammars as “words that denote an action or a state of being.” A verb phrase is a grammatical structure that consists of a verb functioning as the head of the phrase plus any auxiliary verbs, particles, modifiers, complements, and objects.

In grammar, a prepositional complement is a word, phrase, or clause that directly follows a preposition and completes the meaning of the prepositional phrase. Although nouns including pronouns and noun phrases most frequently perform the function, verb phrases in the form of present participles sometimes function as prepositional complements in English. Examples of verbs and verb phrases as prepositional complements include the following:

  • The students are having problems with solving the assigned equations.
  • My professor strongly believes in consulting librarians with research questions.
  • Can we talk about planting a garden this summer?
  • The publisher thanks you for writing the introduction to the book.
  • My grandparents have been looking at selling the lake house.
  • Your little sister took care of watering the garden while we were on vacation.


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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