¿Qué es una frase preposicional? (con ejemplos)

¿Qué es una frase preposicional? (con ejemplos)

Una frase preposicional es un grupo de palabras que consta de:

  • a preposition
  • the object of the preposition
  • any modifiers

En este ejemplo, la frase preposicional está sombreada y la preposición está en negrita:

  • The witch sat on her broom.
    (“On” is a preposition, “broom” is the object of the preposition, and “her” is the modifier.)

Easy Examples of Prepositional Phrases

En cada ejemplo, la frase preposicional está sombreada y la preposición está en negrita.

  • A singer with passion
  • A town near London
  • Keep in time.
  • He acts without thinking.

More Examples of Prepositional Phrases

Es un poco más complicado de lo que se muestra arriba porque el sustantivo puede ser cualquier cosa que desempeñe el papel de un sustantivo. Por ejemplo:

  • It’s a present from her.
    (Remember that the “noun” can be a pronoun.)
  • She stole it from the man across the street.
    (Here, the noun is a noun phrase.)
  • It’s obvious from what he said.
    (Here, the noun is a noun clause.)

El sustantivo que sigue a la preposición (es decir, todo lo que está sombreado pero no en negrita en los ejemplos) se denomina objeto de una preposición. A menudo habrá modificadores en el objeto de la preposición convirtiéndolo en un sintagma nominal. Por ejemplo:

  • I sat with Simba.
    (There are no modifiers in this example.)
  • I sat with the wonderful Simba.
    (With the modifiers “the” and “wonderful,” the object of the preposition is now a noun phrase.)

Aquí hay otro ejemplo:

  • He beat Lee without trying.
    (There are no modifiers in this example. The object of the preposition is a noun. In this case, it’s a gerund.)
  • He beat Lee without overly trying.
    (With the modifier “overly,” the object of the preposition is a noun phrase.)

The Function of Prepositional Phrases

Las frases preposicionales funcionan como adjetivos que modifican sustantivos o adverbios que modifican verbos. Por ejemplo:

Prepositional phrases functioning as adjectives that modify nouns:

  • Do you mean that boy in the corner?
  • I know the policeman with the radio.
    (In these two examples, the prepositional phrases are functioning as adjectives. They are modifying nouns (“that boy” and “the policeman”). As they are multi-word adjectives, these prepositional phrases are a type of adjective phrase.)

Prepositional phrases functioning as adverbs that modify verbs:

  • I live near the stadium.
  • She speaks with notable enthusiasm.
    (In these two examples, the prepositional phrases are functioning as adverbs. They are modifying verbs (“live” and “speaks”). As they are multi-word adverbs, these prepositional phrases are a type of adverbial phrase).

Prepositional Phrases As Adjectives

Aquí hay algunas frases preposicionales más que funcionan como adjetivos:

  • Please buy the scarf with dots.
    (The prepositional phrase describes the noun “scarf.” We could have written “dotted scarf,” which proves that “with dots” is functioning as an adjective.)
  • The man on the radio has a boring voice.
    (The prepositional phrase describes the noun “man.”)
  • Give me one of the brown ones.
    (The prepositional phrase describes the pronoun “one.”)

Prepositional Phrases As Adverbs

Aquí hay algunas frases preposicionales más que funcionan como adverbios:

  • Lee raised his small mackerel with utmost pride.
    (The prepositional phrase modifies the verb “raised.” It is an adverb of manner; i.e., it tells us how he raised it. We could have written “proudly raised,” which proves that “with utmost pride” is functioning as an adverb.)
  • Before the war, Chris played football for Barnstoneworth United.
    (The prepositional phrase modifies the verb “played.” It is an adverb of time; i.e., it tells us when he played.)
  • Dawn is tired from the hike.
    (The prepositional phrase modifies the verb “is.” It is an adverb of reason; i.e., it tells us why she is tired.)
  • Lee lives in that fridge.
    (The prepositional phrase modifies the verb “lives.” It is an adverb of place; i.e., it tells us where he lives.)

Real-Life Examples of Prepositional Phrases

En estos ejemplos de la vida real, las frases preposicionales funcionan como adjetivos:

  • The best defence against the atom bomb is not to be there when it goes off. (The 1949 British Army Journal)
  • In 1938, Time Magazine chose Adolf Hitler for man of the year.
  • Red sky at night, shepherds’ delight. Blue sky at night, day.

Estas frases preposicionales funcionan como adverbios:

  • I used to work in a fire-hydrant factory. You couldn’t park near the place. (Comedian Steven Wright)
  • Never ruin an apology with an excuse. (American Founding Father Benjamin Franklin)
  • This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force. (Satirist Dorothy Parker)

En el siguiente ejemplo, la primera frase preposicional funciona como adjetivo mientras que la segunda funciona como adverbio:

  • A mathematical formula for happiness: reality divided by expectations. There were two ways to be happy: improve your reality or lower your expectations. (Author Jodi Picoult)

Puede ser bastante complicado. Por ejemplo:

  • A raisin dropped in a glass of fresh champagne will bounce up and down continuously from the bottom of the glass to the top.
    (Here, “in a glass of fresh champagne” is a prepositional phrase functioning as an adverb that includes a prepositional phrase (“of fresh champagne”) functioning as an adjective. Similarly, “from the bottom of the glass to the top” is functioning as an adverb and also includes a prepositional phrase (“of the glass”) functioning as an adjective.)

Why Should I Care about Prepositional Phrases?

Hay tres buenas razones para preocuparse por las frases preposicionales.

(Reason 1) Don’t treat a prepositional phrase as the subject of your verb.

Tenga cuidado cuando una frase preposicional precede a un verbo.

  • A box of knives were found at the scene. ❌
    (Here, the subject is not “knives.” It is “box.” Therefore, the verb should be singular and not plural. This should read “A box of knives was found at the scene.”)
  • A combination of factors were the cause of the crash. ❌
    (“Combination” is singular. The subject is not “factors.”)
  • Bernard Shaw hasn’t an enemy in the world, and none of his friends like him. ❌ (Playwright Oscar Wilde)
    (Marking this wrong is a little harsh, but try to treat “none” as singular (if for no other reason than many of your grammar-savvy readers will want it to be singular). Therefore, “none of his friends likes him” is a bit sharper.)

Recordar. No trates el sustantivo en tu frase preposicional (aquí, “cuchillos”, “factores” y “amigos”) como el sujeto de tu verbo.

(Reason 2) The noun in a prepositional phrase influences the verb with an expression like “most of,” “some of,” “half of,” “majority of” and “99 percent of.”

Tenga en cuenta que el sustantivo en su frase preposicional puede influir en el verbo cuando el sujeto es un pronombre indefinido (es decir, una palabra como “todos”, “cualquiera”, “más”, “la mayoría” y “algunos”), que puede ser singular o plural dependiendo del contexto.

  • Most of the cake has been eaten. ✔️
    (The noun in the prepositional phrase (“cake”) is singular. Therefore, “most” is treated as singular.)
  • Most of the cakes have been eaten. ✔️
    (The noun in the prepositional phrase (“cakes”) is plural. Therefore, “most” is treated as plural.)
  • Some of the worst mistakes of my life have been haircuts. (Singer Jim Morrison) ✔️
    (The main noun in the prepositional phrase (“mistakes”) is plural. Therefore, “some” is treated as plural. Note that “of my life” is just a prepositional phrase functioning as an adjective modifying “mistakes.” The prepositional phrase “of the worst mistakes” is the one modifying “some,” which is the subject of our verb (“have”). Yeah, it can get complicated.)

Cuando se modifica por una frase preposicional, un pronombre indefinido (por ejemplo, “la mayoría”, “algunos”, “todos”) copia el número del sustantivo en la frase preposicional.

¿Lo tengo? Ahora, aquí está su bono de dos por uno. Esta decisión también se aplica a términos comunes como “la mitad de”, “la mayoría de” y “un porcentaje de”, que también pueden ser singulares o plurales. Tales expresiones son singulares cuando se refieren a algo singular pero plurales cuando se refieren a algo plural. Por ejemplo:

  • Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half the time. (Writer Elwyn Brooks White)
    (“Half” is plural because “people” is plural.)
  • Half of the world knows not how the other half lives. (Poet George Herbert)
    (“Half” is singular because “world” is singular.)
  • Ninety percent of the politicians give the other ten percent a bad reputation. (US politician Henry Kissinger)
    (“Ninety percent” is plural because “politicians” is plural.)
  • My guess is that well over eighty percent of the human race goes without having a single original thought. (Satirist HL Mencken)
    (“Eighty percent” is singular because “human race” is singular.)

(Reason 3) Avoid ambiguity when placing your prepositional phrase.

  • One morning, I shot an elephant in my pyjamas. How he got into my pyjamas I’ll never know. (Comedian Groucho Marx)

Este chiste bien citado de Groucho Marx juega con el hecho de que las frases preposicionales pueden ser ambiguas. Groucho sabía que asumiríamos que “in my pyjamas” era un adverbio que modificaba “shot”. Su remate, sin embargo, nos dice que en realidad era un adjetivo que modificaba “elefante”.

La ambigüedad con frases preposicionales puede ser un problema real. Mira este ejemplo:

  • Joe fed the shark in the cage.
    (Does the prepositional phrase tell us where Joe was when he fed the shark, or does it tell us which shark Joe fed? In other words, is “in the cage” functioning as an adverb modifying “fed” or an adjective modifying “shark? If you read it as an adverb (i.e., telling us where Joe was), you might assume there was just one shark. If you read it as an adjective (i.e., “the shark that was in the cage”), you would assume there were other sharks.)

Por lo general, puede eliminar la ambigüedad reformulando su oración. (Ah, y no se sorprenda si su nueva redacción corta en pedazos su oración original).

  • Joe was in the cage when he fed the shark.
  • Joe fed the shark that was in the cage.

A menudo, el contexto significa que no hay una ambigüedad genuina.

  • Never ruin an apology with an excuse. (Benjamin Franklin)
    (This is clearly telling you how not to ruin an apology as opposed to telling what type of apology not to ruin (i.e., the prepositional phrase is functioning as an adverb not an adjective.)
  • Joe hit the burglar with a hammer.
    (So, who had the hammer? Often, a standalone sentence will be ambiguous (as this example is), but if the surrounding context eliminates the ambiguity, you will get away with not rewording your sentence.)

Los ejemplos ambiguos hasta ahora han implicado incertidumbre sobre si la frase preposicional funciona como un adverbio o un adjetivo. Tenga en cuenta que la ambigüedad (a menudo ambigüedad humorística) también ocurre cuando no está claro qué modifica una frase preposicional.

  • We will not sell paraffin to anyone in glass bottles.
    (What? There are people who live in glass bottles?)
  • Simon and his mother were reunited after 52 years in McDonald’s.
    (What? They spent 52 years in McDonald’s?)

Cuando use una frase preposicional, verifique rápidamente si podría estar modificando algo más en su oración. Trate de tener en cuenta que, aunque para usted está claro lo que se supone que debe modificar, es posible que no lo esté para sus lectores.

Si su frase preposicional es ambigua, muévala junto a (generalmente inmediatamente a la derecha de) lo que sea que deba modificar. Eso generalmente hace el truco. Si eso hace que su oración sea demasiado difícil de manejar, reformule su oración.

Estos ejemplos se han corregido moviendo la frase preposicional:

  • We will not sell paraffin in glass bottles to anyone.
  • Simon and his mother were reunited in McDonald’s after 52 years.

Probemos eso con el ejemplo “Joe golpeó al ladrón con un martillo”:

  • Joe hit with a hammer the burglar.
    (This is too unwieldy. We need to reword it. “Joe used a hammer to hit the burglar” is an option.)

Key Points

  • El sustantivo en una frase preposicional no gobierna el verbo.
    • A list of faults has been recorded. ✔️
      (“Has” is right because “list” is singular. “Faults” is plural, but that’s irrelevant.)
  • Con una expresión como “algunos de”, “la mayoría de”, “la mitad de” y “la mayoría de”, el sustantivo que sigue determina si el sujeto es singular o plural.
    • Some of the treasure is mine. ✔️
      (“Is” is right because “treasure” is singular.)
    • Some of the coins are mine. ✔️
      (“Are” is right because “coins” is plural.)
  • Tenga cuidado con las frases preposicionales porque pueden ser ambiguas. Si hay una ambigüedad genuina, coloque su frase preposicional al lado de lo que sea que esté modificando o reformule su oración.

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