Before you can effectively write using the English language, or even analyze how others use writing effectively, you need to be familiar with the basic parts and components of the English language. Knowing and being able to identify these smaller component of your own language will allow you to write more effectively and assess and improve your own writing as the year progresses.

This week we will be examining how to correctly diagram adjectives and adverbs. Remember, you must pay attention to whether the adjective or adverb describes the verb or subject or direct object of a sentence, or if the adverb is modifying an adjective to determine where you should place it in your diagram.

A prepositional phrase is a group of words that begin with a preposition and end with a noun. The whole phrases functions as either an adjective or adverb.

But what is a preposition? The technical definition is that a preposition is a word that shows the relationship between nouns or pronouns and other elements in the rest of the sentence. The easy definition is that a preposition is anything a worm can do to an apple:


Remember, when a prepositional phrase acts as an adjective, it modifies nouns and pronouns:


When prepositional phrases act as adverbs the modify verbs, adverbs or adjectives:

Remember, when a prepositional phrase acts as an adjective it can modify any noun or pronoun – not just those in the subject. Sometimes they modify the object of another prepositional phrase:

Practice diagramming prepositional phrases with the sentences below:

  1. The exquisite, red flowers in the garden are growing strong.
  2. Has Lucy been reading all night?
  3. The hot air balloon floated above the puffy, white clouds.
  4. Little Jack Horner sat in the corner of the room.
  5. The chocolate chip cookie dough is in the back of the freezer.
  6. The rusty lawnmower with the broken axle sat in my garage.
  7. In May, the vigorous plants in Cathy’s vegetable garden grow very quickly.

8. Which of these is NOT a prepositional phrase?

  • in the journal
  • at the table
  • how are you
  • on the floor

9. True or False: Some prepositions show time and place and others add detail.

10. True or false: As an adverb, a prepositional phrase will answer questions such as How? When? or Where?

11.Most people in Japan follow the traditional customs of their country.  Is this prepositional phrase acting as an adjective or adverb ?

12. The Japanese traditionally bow on certain occasions.  Is this prepositional phrase acting as an adjective or adverb?