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The Logic of Prepositional Phrases
From My Book of Favorite Fairy Tales
by Edric  Vredenburg; Illustrated by Jennie Harbour
Analysis Key

     People will see logical relationships differently, so when a student offers an explanation that differs from mine, I have the students discuss it, and then vote. The class members can then see for themselves how many people agree or disagree.

1.  Red Riding Hood went home [NuA] {in the evening} [Went when?]. | ["Little Red Riding Hood"]

2.  The king {of the land} [Which king?] held a feast (DO). | ["Cinderella"]

3.  She called her only daughter (DO) {to her bedside} [Where?]. | ["Cinderella"]

4.  The king's son took her (DO) {by the hand} [How?] and danced {with her

and no one else} [Under What Condition?]. | ["Cinderella"]

5. A sprig {of hazel} [What kind of?] brushed {against him} [Where?]. | ["Cinderella"]

6. Hansel and Grethel had walked {through the woods} [Where?] {for two 

hours} [How long?]. | ["Hansel and Grethel"]

7. {During the night} [When?] you may regain your rightful form (DO). | ["The White Fawn"]

8. {On her grand-daughter's birthday} [When?] she presented her (IO) {with a

red silk hood} (DO?) ["What?] [#1]. | ["Little Red Riding Hood"]

9. I will look {down from heaven} [Where?] and watch {over you} [Where?]. | ["Cinderella"]

10. {At last} [When?] their eyes closed {from weariness} [Why?] . | ["Hansel and Grethel"]

11. The Queen pronounced the names (DO) {of the flowers} [Whose names?] . | ["The White Fawn"]

12. Off she went {with her two daughters} [Under What Condition?] {to the feast} [Where?]. | ["Cinderella"]

1. Prepositional phrases rarely function as direct object, but if we view "with a red silk hood" as answering the question "presented what?" then, it would seem to be a direct object. Note that we could drop the "with" and have a typical direct object. The "with" may imply that she presented herself to her with a red silk hood. That would make the "with" phrase a response to "how" or "under what condition." [You may see from this why textbooks sometimes discuss the logic of prepositional phrases, give a few simple examples, and then drop the entire question. Our objective, of course, is to have students explore the logical additions that prepositional phrases contribute to texts. Thus we can disagree with each other while still expanding the students' sense of what kinds of information such phrases add to texts.