All About Prepositions

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1 All About ] Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put. Winston Churchill Introduction A preposition shows the relationship between a noun or pronoun and the rest of the sentence. This mini-lesson focuses on the following aspects of prepositions: simple and compound prepositions prepositions with nouns and pronouns in the objective case prepositional phrases ending a sentence with a preposition Begin a mini-lesson on prepositions by writing a short definition of this part of speech such as the following on the board: A preposition connects a noun or pronoun to the rest of the sentence: Bandit hid under the table. Teach Distribute copies of the passage The Fastest Texter in the West: A Cyber Tall Tale on page 1 to students. Allow time for them to read the passage on their own or ask them to follow along as you read it aloud. Then use the teaching chart on page 0 to discuss how the writer used prepositions in the passage. (Also see the lesson on phrases and clauses, pages and sentences on pages ) Grammar Activities That Really Grab Em!, Grades by Sarah Glasscock, Scholastic Teaching Resources 1 A software program sent the following text message in just 16 seconds: The razor-toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygo centrus are the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality they seldom attack a human. That was a world record until Tessa Flurry tackled the text. In spite of the fact that one hand was tied behind her back, Tessa beat that record. She sent the message into cyberspace in less than 10 seconds. Tessa Flurry is the fastest texter in the West. She can send 104 messages before most people s thumbs or fingers even touch their keypads. Just thinking about sending so many messages into cyberspace gives my fingers the cramps! Some say that baby Tessa was found crawling on one hand in the desert, carrying a cell phone in her other hand, searching for a signal. By the time she was two years old, Tessa could walk and talk and text different messages from three different cell phones at the same time! Nobody knows Tessa s real last name. They call her Tessa Flurry because she texts so rapidly that the flurry of her fingers on the key pad makes people dizzy. Tessa Flurry, the Fastest Texter in the West, is the name she s stuck with. At last count, there were about 6,700 different languages in the world. Tessa can text in,765 of them! Some people say that soon everyone in the world will have received a text from Tessa. Who knows? Maybe Tessa Flurry is tapping messages to you and me on her keypads right now! Name Date A simple preposition is only one word and some simple prepositions are short words, too but it has a lot of power in a sentence. about above after against at before Apply into of between off beyond for up onto to toward under on in upon with without To understand how much power a preposition has in a sentence, try rewriting one of these sentences without using a preposition. You can add any other parts of speech nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and so on. Your revised sentence should have the same meaning as the original sentence. Michael hid his locker key in the fish tank. Don t leave without me! Beyond the trees, the sun is setting. Stella quickly slides between Jason and me. Distribute a copy of the reproducible A Preposition Puzzle on page 4 to each student. Before students work on their own, tackle the revision of the first sentences with them. Ask students to identify the preposition (in), which noun it connects to the rest of the sentence (tank), and what kind of relationship it shows (space). Point out that the prepositional phrase in the fish tank acts as an adverb because it tells where the key is. Since the phrase acts as an adverb, students might suggest a sentence such as the following: Michael hid the key where the fish live. Compare the clarity and sound of the original and revised sentences. 4 Grammar Activities That Really Grab Em!, Grades by Sarah Glasscock, Scholastic Teaching Resources 29

2 Simple and Compound Most prepositions show the relationship of time or space between a noun or pronoun and the rest of the sentence. The English language contains about 70 simple prepositions, including about, between, on, through, and with. Then there are compound prepositions, such as with respect to and at that point in time. It s usually better to replace compound prepositions with simple prepositions or other parts of speech, for example, at that point in time could be rewritten as then. 1 The simple preposition of shows the relationship between the noun, genera Serrasalmus and Pygo centrus, and piranhas. It helps shows what kind of piranha are the most ferocious. 2 In spite of is a compound preposition. It could be replaced with a simple preposition: With one hand tied behind her back, Tessa Flurry beat that record. and Pronouns in the Objective Case Only pronouns in the objective case me, you, him, her, it, us, you, them go with prepositions. People often have trouble when they use a preposition followed by a noun and a pronoun or two pronouns: Mr. Luna spoke to Link and I about talking in class. We wouldn t say or write the following: Mr. Luna spoke to I about talking in class, so I is incorrect. Testing one pronoun at a time with the preposition will help students use the correct case. Prepositional Phrases A prepositional phrase begins with a preposition and ends with a noun or pronoun (the object of the preposition). A prepositional phrase can function as an adjective or an adverb. A sentences can have more than one prepositional phrase. Varying the position of prepositional phrases in your sentences can help writing flow more smoothly. 6 Students might be tempted to write this prepositional phrase as to you and I, but have them try using each pronoun independently. They wouldn t say or write Maybe Tessa Flurry is tapping messages to I on her keypads right now! Both of these prepositional phrases are adverbs; they both modify the verb sent. 4 Try moving the prepositional phrase to different places. Here s one example: Tessa could walk and talk and text different messages from three cell phones all at the same time by the time she was two years old! Ending a Sentence With a Preposition A preposition can go at the end of the sentence if it is necessary in the sentence. The Churchill quote at the top of page 29 shows how contorted writing can become if we try to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition. If a preposition is necessary to the sentence, it s okay to end the sentence with it: The bicycle wheel came off. If the preposition isn t necessary, get rid of it. Write the Churchill quote on the board and ask students how they would rephrase it. 0 5 Some people might write this sentence as follows: Tessa Flurry, the Fastest Texter in the West, is the name with which she s stuck. The revised sentence doesn t fit the tone of the rest of the tall tale.

3 The Fastest Texter in the West: A Cyber Tall Tale A software program sent the following text message in just 16 seconds: The razor-toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygo centrus are the most ferocious freshwater fish in 1 MODEL PASSAGE the world. In reality they seldom attack a human. That was a world record until Tessa Flurry tackled the text. In spite of the fact that one hand was tied behind her back, Tessa beat that record. She sent the message into cyberspace in less than 10 seconds. Tessa Flurry is the fastest texter in the West. She can send 104 messages before most people s thumbs or fingers even touch their keypads. Just thinking about sending so many messages into cyberspace gives my fingers the cramps! Some say that baby Tessa was found crawling on one hand in the desert, carrying a cell phone in her other hand, searching for a signal. By the time she was two years old, Tessa could walk and talk and text different messages from three different cell phones at the same time! Nobody knows Tessa s real last name. They call her Tessa Flurry because she texts so rapidly that the flurry of her fingers on the key pad makes people dizzy. Tessa Flurry, the Fastest Texter in the West, is the name she s stuck with. 4 5 At last count, there were about 6,700 different languages in the world. Tessa can text in,765 of them! Some people say that soon everyone in the world will have received a text from 2 Tessa. Who knows? Maybe Tessa Flurry is tapping messages to you and me on her keypads right now! 6 In this passage, you ll explore the following: simple and compound prepositions prepositional phrases prepositions and pronouns ending a sentence with a preposition 1

4 $ WRITING PROMPTS Teachers: Duplicate these prompts on sturdy paper and then cut them apart. You may also write the prompts on the board or display them onscreen Name Date A Classroom Makeover Write! Have you seen home makeover programs on television? Take a look around your classroom and think about how you would make it over. Consider questions such as these: Would the classroom have a theme? What colors would you paint it? What kind of coverings would you put on the windows and the floor? How would you rearrange the furniture? Write a plan describing your makeover. With the Rest of the Class: Which makeover ideas of other students did you like? Then talk about how important prepositions were in your plan. $ Name Date My Place in the Class Write! Where do you sit in the classroom? Write a short chant describing your position in relation to at least two other students who are nearest to you. For example, who sits in front of you? Behind you? Next to you? To the left of you? Across from you? Here s an example: Sitka sits behind me. I sit behind Jason. Write your full response on a separate sheet of paper. Write your full response on a separate sheet of paper. With the Rest of the Class: Share your chant with the class. Talk about whether you had to think about using objective pronouns in the prepositional phrases you created, or if they seemed to come naturally. 2

5 Activities: Preposition Poetry Ask pairs to collaborate to write a preposition poem. Each line of the poem should begin with a different prepositional phrase. Remind students that a prepositional phrase begins with a preposition and ends with a noun or a pronoun in the objective case: between you and me/from him and me. Encourage pairs to practice doing a choral reading of their poem, in which partners take turns reciting the lines. With the Class: Have pairs perform a choral reading of their poem for the other students. Let them share their creative processes and then ask: How did the prepositional phrases drive the construction of your poem? Is It Under the Clock? Choose a classroom object but don t reveal what it is. Then give the following directions to the class: Your job is to locate an object I ve picked out in the classroom. Each of you must ask me a question containing a prepositional phrase to try to narrow down the location of the object. For example, you might ask, Is it under the clock? If the answer is Yes, then you get to try to guess what the object is. If the answer is No, or you guess incorrectly, then another student takes a turn. Remember to use the answers to help you refine your own question when it s your turn. The first student to locate the object and identify it gets to choose another object for the class to attempt to identify. With the Class: Call on students to describe how they used prepositions in their questions to help them figure out where the object was and what it was. Move That Phrase! Materials: books and magazines Tell individuals to look through books and magazines to find examples of sentences that use prepositions and prepositional phrases especially well. Have them share some with the group, noting the different positions in which prepositions and prepositional phrases occur in the sentences. Then challenge the group members to take turns adding different prepositional phrases to the following sentence: The bird sat. One group member should write down each new version of the sentence. After everyone has had a chance to contribute a prepositional phrase, the entire group should discuss whether they d like to revise the sentence and move any of the phrases. Use examples from the groups to discuss what students learned about the placement of prepositional phrases. With the Class: Suggest that groups share and discuss their sentences. Talk about how they decided where to place each prepositional phrase. Ask: What did you learn about the placement of prepositional phrases? Which can be moved easily within a sentence, and which can t? Why do you think this is so?

6 ACTIVITY Name Date A Preposition Puzzle A simple preposition is only one word and some simple prepositions are short words, too but it has a lot of power in a sentence. Some Common Simple about above after against at before behind beside between beyond for in into of off on onto to toward under up upon with without To understand how much power a preposition has in a sentence, try rewriting one of these sentences without using a preposition. You can add any other parts of speech nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and so on. Your revised sentence should have the same meaning as the original sentence. Michael hid his locker key in the fish tank. Don t leave without me! Beyond the trees, the sun is setting. Stella quickly slides between Jason and me. 4

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