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Woman Reading
in a Garden
1880
by
Mary Cassatt
(1844-1926)
Verbs as Objects of Prepositions

      In KISS Level 1.2 you learned that verbs can function as subjects or as complements. In Level 2.1.6, you learned to distinguish between finite verbs and verbals. Thus, verbs that function as subjects or complements are called "verbals." You have probably seen (or guessed) that verbals can also function as objects of prepositions. 

     Most of the verbs that function as objects of prepositions end in "-ing." (These verbs are "gerunds," one of the three types of verbals, but you do not need to remember that yet.) For example:

{After eating supper}, they watched a ball game in the den.
"After" can be a preposition, and if we ask "after what?" the answer is "eating supper." Note that, like all verbs, verbals can have complements. In this case, "supper" is the direct object of "eating," and "eating" is the object of the preposition "After." 

     And, just like finite verbs, verbals can be modified by adverbs, including adverbial prepositional phrases.

{After quickly eating supper} {in the kitchen}, they watched a ball game in the den.
Additional Examples:

They like all outdoor sports {from swimming} {to hunting}.
He dug the hole {by using his hands}.



      Occasionally you will find another type of verbal (infinitives) that functions as objects of prepositions. These usually appear after the prepositions "except" and "but" when it means "except":

Mary will do nothing in her free time {but read}.
Tom will do everything and anything in the kitchen {except wash the dishes}.

These phrases typically function as adjectives to words like "nothing," "anything," and "everything."