December 27, 2009
To the Master Collection ToC The KISS Grammar Home Page
KISS Level 2.2.4 - 
Advanced Questions 
about Prepositional Phrases
Sandro Botticelli’s
Pallas and the Centaur 
undated, tempera on canvas
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence
Notes for Teachers
Ex. 1 - Verbs as Objects of Prepositions
Ex. 2 - Subordinate Clauses as Objects of Prepositions
Ex. 3 - Ellipsed Objects of Prepositions 
Prepositions that Follow their Objects
See also:
KISS Level 3.2.1 - Semi-Reduced and Other Ellipsed Clauses
KISS Level 4 - Infinitives as Objects of Prepositions
KISS Level 5.8 - Noun Absolutes as Objects of Prepositions
Notes for Teachers

     KISS Level 2.2.4 is more for teachers and parents than it is for students. In analyzing real, randomly selected texts, students who have mastered KISS Level 2.2.1 (The "to" problem) and KISS Level 2.2.2 (Preposition or Subordinate Conjunction) will probably find that they can easily identify more than 95% of the prepositional phrases in any text. As usual in KISS, you should always remind students that there are some things that they are expected to always get right, and there are other things that they are expected to get wrong--at least until they have thoroughly mastered KISS Level Five. KISS Level 2.2.4 suggests the kinds of things that students should be expected to get wrong at this point in their work.
      Constructions that students have not yet studied also function as objects of prepositions, and, obviously, we should expect students to make mistakes in analyzing them. These include subordinate clauses, two of the three verbals (gerunds and infinitives), and noun absolutes. 
     The exercises in this section include only gerunds and subordinate clauses--the two constructions that students are most likely to run into. The functions of all of these constructions as objects of prepositions is presented again, in the study of those constructions. 
     In the "complete" books, this level consists of three exercises, one on gerunds, one on subordinate clauses, and one on ellipsed objects of prepositions. (See below.) You may what to show your students a few of the exercises and briefly explain them now. Doing so will show students that you really do know what they are expected to miss, and why.

     Note that the only "instructional material" for this section is about gerunds with complements, and it is presented to students as "Unusual Prepositional Phrases." Otherwise, these exercises follow the KISS principle of teaching students to apply what they have already learn to examples that are not normally presented in textbooks.
Suggested Directions for Analytical Exercises:
1. Place parentheses ( ) around each prepositional phrase.
2. Underline every finite verb twice, its subject(s) once, and label any complements (“PA,” “PN,” “IO,” or “DO”).
Probable Time Required:
     This section is primarily an explanation for students of mistakes that they will be expected to make until they get to clauses and verbals. You may want to have them do an exercise or two, but essentially, this section could be just the focus of one in-class illustration.
Ex. 1 - Verbs as Objects of Prepositions
Instructional Overhead Notes for Teachers
For more exercises on gerunds, see the exercises for KISS Level Four.
     Students who have mastered simple prepositional phrases will have few if any problems with gerunds that function as objects of prepositions in sentences such as "They love everything {from swimming} {to hunting}. They will, however, be confused about how to mark phrases in which the gerunds have complements. For example, in

"Squirrels live by finding nuts from trees." 
students will want to know if the parentheses go around "by finding" or around "by finding nuts." 
This is a purely notational question, and I personally will accept either, preferably the one that makes more sense to them. (Note that the phrase "from trees" is also embedded in the phrase "by finding nuts.")
Dealing with Verbss with Complements #1 AK ToC G3
Dealing with Verbs with Complements #2 AK " G4
From At the Back of the North Wind AK ToC -
Ex # 1 from Black Beauty by Anna Sewell AK ToC G5
Ex # 2 from Black Beauty by Anna Sewell AK " G6
Ex # 3 from Black Beauty by Anna Sewell AK " G7
Ex. 2 - Subordinate Clauses as Objects of Prepositions
     KISS Level 2.2.2 (Preposition or Subordinate Conjunction) teaches students how to distinguish when a word that looks like a preposition is not one. They simply have to use the "sentence test"--if whatever answers the question "what or whom?" after the word is a sentence, the word is not functioning as a preposition. In that level, the  objective is to enable students to distinguish between sentences such as
Bob has been sick {since Tuesday}.
Bob has been sick [since he played in the rain].
In a few cases, however, what looks like a sentence actually is the object of a preposition, but it is a subordinate clause. In other cases, students will incorrectly mark a prepositional phrase because they have not yet studied clauses. For example, in the sentence
He listened {to [what the man said]}.
many students who have not studied clauses will mark "to what" as the prepositional phrase. At this level, I would simply ignore what they mark--it is an expected mistake. When they get into clauses they will learn that the object of the preposition "to" is the subordinate clause "what the man said." The "what" functions simultaneously as the subordinating conjunction and the direct object of "said."
Based on G. MacDonald's At the Back of the North Wind AK ToC G3
Ex # 2 from Black Beauty by Anna Sewell AK ToC G6
Ex. 3 - Ellipsed Objects of Prepositions (A Fine Point)
    Objects of prepositions are sometimes partially, or even completely ellipsed, simply because they are understood. Consider the sentence
They had done this before.
Most grammars explain "before" as an adverb here, but there are many different types of adverbs. Students do not need to learn labels for the different types, but they should be aware of meaning. Things cannot simply be "before"; they have to be before some thing, person, time, place, etc. Thus this "before" means "before the time in which they were." That is, however, obvious to any native speaker of English, and thus the object of the preposition "before" is simply ellipsed. Within KISS, it is perfectly acceptable to explain "before" in the sentence above simply as an adverb, but what happens in a sentence such as
They had done this many times before.
In this case, the "before" can surely also be explained as a preposition, with its object ellipsed, that functions as an adjective to "times." Awareness of this possibility helps students explain ellipsis in prepositional phrases in cases such as the following, adapted from a student's paper:
They were more interested in the world underneath the theater. This world underneath was permeated by an atmosphere of mystery.
To explain the "underneath" in the second sentence simply as an adverb takes a bit of work because "underneath" always implies something above it. Thus it can easily be seen as an ellipsed prepositional phrase that functions as an adjective to "world." Its object is obvious because it was stated in the previous sentence.
Based on Pinocchio, The Tale of a Puppet, by C. Collodi AK ToC G3
Ex # 1 From Black Beauty by Anna Sewell AK ToC G5
Ex # 2 From Black Beauty by Anna Sewell AK " G6
Prepositions that Follow their Objects
     Given the rule that sentences should not end in prepositions, Winston Churchill, an excellent writer, is said to have responded, "There are some things up with which I cannot put." The "rule" is not a good one. As these exercises suggest, there are some cases in which prepositions follow their objects and often end up at the end of the sentence.
     Subordinate clauses are a typical case. Consider the following two sentences:
But his voice was what I should know him by.
I could have told my master where his oats went to. 
Most grammar textbooks give constructions names, and once having named them, they rarely look at how words actually function in sentences. Thus the grammar books call "what" in the first sentence, and "where" in the second, "subordinating conjunctions." Then they STOP. It is definitely true that the two words function as subordinating conjunctions, but as we have seen elsewhere in KISS, words can have more than one function. Why is "what" used in the first sentence, and "where" in the second?
     Very simply, the first subordinate clasue means "I should know hm by what," and the second means "His oats went to where." The subordinating conjunctions simultaneously function as the objects of the prepositions (which normally appear at the end of the subordinate clause).
Ex # 1 From Black Beauty by Anna Sewell AK ToC  -
Ex # 2 From Black Beauty by Anna Sewell AK "