What Is the Object of a Preposition? (with Examples)

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What Is the Object of a Preposition? (with Examples)

The object of a preposition is the noun or pronoun governed by a preposition.

The object of a preposition is usually (but not always) the noun or pronoun immediately to the right of the preposition.

Examples of Objects of Prepositions

Here are some examples of objects of prepositions. In the examples below, the objects of prepositions are shaded, and the prepositions are in bold.
  • This is one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind. (Neil Armstrong)
  • (The word a before man is a modifier. The object of a preposition is often accompanied by modifiers that precede it or follow it.)
  • The ants get in your ears when you are sleeping.
  • (The word your is a modifier.)
  • Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist. (George Carlin)
  • (The words every and cynical are modifiers.)
  • Are those biscuits on the table for the dogs?
  • (Note: The words the before table and dogs are modifiers. Remember, the object of a preposition is the head noun (or pronoun) within the noun phrase or noun clause.)
  • Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save. (Will Rogers, 1879-1935)
  • (In this example, the preposition relates to the noun clause the time we have rushed through life trying to save. The object of the preposition is time, which is the head noun. The word the is modifier. The clause we have rushed through life trying to save is also a modifier. It's an adjective clause.)
  • If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. (Wayne Dyer)
  • (Remember, the object of a preposition does not always follow the preposition. This is the case with the second things.)

Objects of Prepositions Are in the Objective Case

The noun or pronoun governed by a preposition is always in the objective case. In English, this only affects pronouns. For example:
  • Go with her.
  • (The pronoun her is the objective case version of she.)
  • Sit near them.
  • (The pronoun them is the objective case version of they.)
  • You want me to talk to whom?
  • (The pronoun whom is the objective case version of who.)
Read more about objective personal pronouns.
 
 

Take a longer test on the object of a preposition.
USE WHOM AFTER A PREPOSITION

The word who cannot be the object of a preposition.

(Whom is the objective case version of who.)

Read more about who & whom.
WATCH THE VERB TO THE RIGHT OF AN OBJECT OF A PREPOSITION

The object of a preposition cannot be the subject of a verb. Look at this example:
  • A box of magazines are under the stairs.
  • A box of magazines is under the stairs.
Do not be fooled by the proximity of the object of the preposition to the verb. You have to ensure the subject (here, box) and the verb agree in number.

The situation, however, is different with some expressions (e.g., half of, a proportion of). With these, the object of the preposition does influence the verb. For example:
  • Half of the cakes are missing.
  • (Here, of cakes means that half is treated a plural.)
  • Half of the cake is missing.
  • (Here, of cake means that half is treated a singular.)
Read more about subject-verb agreement.


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