Object of a Preposition Definition and Examples

Glossary of Grammatical and Rhetorical Terms

Still from Citizen Kane

Mercury Productions

In English grammar, the object of a preposition is a noun, noun phrase, or pronoun that follows a preposition and completes its meaning. The object of a preposition is in the objective case.

A word group made up of a preposition, its object, and any of the object's modifiers is called a prepositional phrase.

In contemporary language studies, the object of a preposition is sometimes described as a prepositional complement.

Examples and Observations

Stoick the Vast in How to Train Your Dragon, 2010
"Oh, you are many things, Hiccup, but a dragon killer is not one of them. Get back to the house."

Groucho Marx in Animal Crackers, 1930
"One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I don't know."

Charles Foster Kane in Citizen Kane, 1941
"You can't buy a bag of peanuts in this town without someone writing a song about you."

Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, 1939
"Toto, I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore."

The Wizard in The Wizard of Oz, 1939
"You, my friend, are a victim of disorganized thinking. You are under the unfortunate impression that just because you run away you have no courage; you're confusing courage with wisdom."

Rick in Casablanca, 1942
"Here's looking at you, kid."

Rick in Casablanca, 1942
"Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story 2, 1999
"Somewhere in that pad of stuffing is a toy who taught me that life’s only worth living if you’re being loved by a kid."

Mrs. Chasen in Harold and Maude, 1971
"I have here, Harold, the forms sent out by the National Computer Dating Service. It seems to me that as you do not get along with the daughters of my friends this is the best way for you to find a prospective wife."

Apocalypse Now, 1979
"I love the smell of napalm in the morning."

E.B. White, Charlotte's Web. Harper & Row, 1952
"It was the best place to be, thought Wilbur, this warm delicious cellar, with the garrulous geese, the changing seasons, the heat of the sun, the passage of swallows, the nearness of rats, the sameness of sheep, the love of spiders, the smell of manure, and the glory of everything."

David Niven, Bring on the Empty Horses. G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1975
"I spent the greater part of that night with Scott Fitzgerald listening to an outpouring of woe, charm, lost-youth sadness, boasts, family disasters, nostalgia, fears, hopes, pure babbling, and a lot of coughing."

Postmodifiers vs Prepositional Complements

"We refer to the element following a preposition as a complement rather than a post-modifier because, unlike a post-modifier, it is not optional. The preposition at, for example, must be followed by a prepositional complement...

"The prepositional complement is typically a noun phrase, but it may also be a nominal relative clause or an -ing clause. Both the nominal relative clause and the -ing clause have a range of functions similar to that of a noun phrase:

1. complement as noun phrase
through the window
2. complement as nominal relative clause
from what I've heard ('from that which I've heard')
3. complement as -ing clause
after speaking to you

As its name suggests, the preposition ('preceding position') normally comes before the prepositional complement. There are several exceptions, however, where the complement is moved and the preposition is left stranded by itself. The stranding is obligatory when the complement is transformed into the subject of the sentence:

Your case will soon be attended to.
This ball is for you to play with.
The picture is worth looking at.

In questions and relative clauses, the prepositional complement may be a pronoun or adverb that is fronted. In that case, the preposition is normally stranded:

Who are you waiting for?
Where are you coming from?
I am the person (that) you are waiting for. (In relative clauses the pronoun may be omitted."


  • Gerald C. Nelson and Sidney Greenbaum, An Introduction to English Grammar, 3rd ed. Routledge, 2013
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Nordquist, Richard. "Object of a Preposition Definition and Examples." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, thoughtco.com/object-of-a-preposition-op-1691447. Nordquist, Richard. (2023, April 5). Object of a Preposition Definition and Examples. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/object-of-a-preposition-op-1691447 Nordquist, Richard. "Object of a Preposition Definition and Examples." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/object-of-a-preposition-op-1691447 (accessed June 2, 2023).