Learn about how prepositions can act as conjunctions when there is a verb after the preposition.

Prepositions or Conjunctions?

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a sentence might have a prepositional phrase

 

pirate-sailing-past-island

 

The treasure chest was next to the palm trees.

 

subject | linking verb | prepositional phrase

 

the prepositional phrase tells us where the chest was

 

 

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prepositional phrases always start with a preposition such as…

 

in | on | at | from | to | for | over | next | above

 

 

pirate-sailing-past-island

 

 

The ship arrived in the middle of the afternoon.

 

subject | action verb | prepositional phrase

 

the prepositional phrase tells us when the ship arrived

 

 

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prepositions can tell us

 

where

 something happens

 

park

 

They are playing on the slide.

when

 something happens

 

park

 

They went to the park after school.

the direction

 something is moving in

 

park

 

Noah is going down the slide.

 

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prepositions are always used in a phrase

 

this phrase is called a prepositional phrase

 

campsite

 

The really tall trees were behind the tent.

 

prepositional phrase

 

a prepositional phrase always starts with a preposition

 

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conjunctions REVISION question

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a prepositional phrase

 

starts with a preposition and finishes with a noun

 

campsite

 

 prepositional phrase

The campers were in their sleeping bags.

 

subject | linking verb | preposition | noun

 

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the noun that follows a preposition is called

 

the object of the preposition

 

sunshine-through-windows

 

 prepositional phrase

The sun shone through the window.

 

subject | verb | preposition | noun

 

 

this is the noun that follows the preposition - it is the object of the preposition through

 

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the noun that follows a preposition is called

 

the object of the preposition

 

beach-volley-ball

 

Chloe smashed the ball over the net.

 

preposition | object

 

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conjunctions REVISION question

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prepositions can act in different ways in a sentence

 

they can act

as prepositions

 

dog-bitting-man

 

The dog bit Jack before lunch.

preposition

they can also act

as conjunctions

 

dog-bitting-man

 

The dog bit Jack  before  it went for a walk.

 conjunction 

 

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when prepositions act as conjunctions

 

they always have a verb after them

 

The alien reached

home before night.

 

alien

 

verb before = preposition

 

it does not have a verb after it

The alien looked out the

window  before  it flew home.

 

alien

 

verb after =  conjunction 

 

it does have a verb after it

 

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a main clause and a subordinate clause

 

always have their own subject and verb

 

aliens-at-fun-fare

 

The aliens felt sick  after  they went on the big wheel.

 

subject | verb | main clause

 

subject | verb | subordinate clause

 

the word after can be used as a preposition but it is being used as a conjunction here because it is joining two clauses

 

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conjunctions REVISION question

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a conjunction that joins a subordinate clause

to a main clause is called a subordinating conjunction

 

 

aliens-at-fun-fare

 

before joins the subordinate clause to the main clause so it is a subordinating conjunction

 

✅ The aliens bought candyfloss  before  they went on the next ride.

 

main clause because it makes sense on its own

 

subordinate clause because it does not make sense on its own

 

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prepositional phrases do not have a subject and verb

 

subordinate clauses do have a subject and verb

 

aliens-at-fun-fare

 

✅ The aliens stopped for lunch after the bumper cars.

 

main clause | preposition | prepositional phrase | no subject and verb

 

aliens-at-fun-fare

 

✅ They went on the bumper cars  after  they finished lunch.

 

main clause | subordinate clause

 

 subordinating conjunction  | subject | verb

 

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conjunctions REVISION question

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if a word that looks like a preposition has a subject and verb after it

 

then it is not a preposition but a subordinating conjunction

 

 

aliens-at-fun-fare

 

✅ The aliens went to the circus  after  they finished all the rides.

 

main clause | subordinate clause | subject | verb

 

after is followed by a subject and a verb - after is being used as a subordinating conjunction

 

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the key prepositions that can

 

be used as subordinating conjunctions are

  

 after | before | until | since | as 

 

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  after 

 

can be used as a preposition or a subordinating conjunction

 

dog eating

preposition = no subject and verb after it

 

✅ Max was taken for a walk after his dinner.

 

preposition | prepositional phraseno subject and verb

 

dog eating

 

subordinating conjunction = subject and verb after it

 

✅ Max fell asleep  after  he went for a walk.

 

 subordinating conjunction  | subject | verb

 

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 before 

 

can be used as a preposition or a subordinating conjunction

 

 

goal-keeper

prepositional phrases have no subject and verb

 

✅ Max was nervous before the game.

 

preposition | prepositional phrase - no subject and verb

 

goal-keeper

 

subordinate clauses have a subject and verb

 

✅ Max was nervous  before  the game started.

 

 subordinating conjunction  | subject | verb

 

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 until 

 

can be used as a preposition or a subordinating conjunction

 

 

halloween-night

prepositional phrases have no subject and verb

 

✅ They played trick or treat until bedtime.

 

preposition | prepositional phrase - no subject or verb

 

halloween-night

 

subordinate clauses have a subject and verb

 

✅ They played trick or treat  until  their buckets were full.

 

 subordinating conjunction  | subject | verb

 

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 as 

 

can be used as a preposition or a subordinating conjunction

 

halloween-costumes

prepositional phrases have no subject and verb

 

✅ Hugo dressed up as a wizard.

 

preposition | prepositional phraseno subject or verb

 

halloween-costumes

 

subordinate clauses have a subject and verb

 

Hugo ran along the road  as  he was late for the party.

 

 subordinating conjunction  | subject | verb

 

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conjunctions REVISION question

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prepositions are never followed by a subject and a verb

 

student

✅ Hamza finished his homework before football.

 

before has no subject and verb after it so before is a preposition

 

student

 

subordinating conjunctions are always followed by a subject and a verb

 

Hamza shut the door  before  he left.

 

 

before has a subject and verb after it so before is a  subordinating conjunction  

 

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Now take the Preposition or Conjunction? Quiz to find out what you have learned...

   

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