Notes from writing class - Prepositions


Disclaimer: This is a recurring and random series of posts. I'm currently enrolled in a basic writing/editing class and felt that my notes might be helpful to others. Please note, I am not an editor. I'm just an author trying to learn more about the craft to improve my own work, and sharing the things I learn along the way.   Enjoy.

Ok, so what is a Preposition?

A preposition links nouns, pronouns and phrases to other words in a sentence. The word or phrase that the preposition introduces is called the object of the preposition.

A preposition usually indicates the temporal, spatial or logical relationship of its object to the rest of the sentence.

OK, so that’s the hoity-toity definition. Think of it this way, it’s the “where” of an object.

The book is behind the shelf. 
The jacket is hanging on the coatrack.
I read my book during lunch.

Check out this list of prepositions.

Easy enough.

On to the next quick segment.  I’m sure you’ve been told to never end a sentence with a preposition…right?

Well that rule doesn’t always stick in creative writing. 

Think of the way we speak modern English:

Can I go with?
Where you at?
He wants to ask her out.
These numbers just don’t add up.
What did you do that for?

Now, remember I said creative writing. If you’re writing a technical paper then you need to stick to the hard fast rules. The difference with creative writing is the fact that we want a “voice” to show through. Usually a “modern” voice.  With that in mind, it is OK to end your sentence in a preposition. Just be aware that it can sometimes be frowned upon so don’t use it to extremes.

One more quick segment on prepositions.

Sometimes (I’m so guilty of this) a preposition is not needed. “Of” is one of the biggest culprits of that.

Look at this sentence:

She jumped off of the bridge.

Is the “of” really necessary? Nope!

She jumped off the bridge. < - see, exact same meaning but no “of.”

She’s standing outside of the house.

Again, the “of” really doesn’t need to be there.

She’s standing outside the house.

Quick Tip: Do a word search and see how many you can find and remove in your manuscript.

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