Object of Preposition

Object of Preposition

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

Easy Examples of Object of Preposition

In each example below, the object of the preposition is highlighted and the preposition is in bold.
  • in silence
  • without prejudice
  • to me, to you
  • by whom

Real-Life Examples of Object of Preposition

The object of a preposition is usually the noun or pronoun immediately to the right of the preposition.
  • Failure cannot cope with persistence. (American author Napoleon Hill)
  • Turn your wounds into wisdom. (Talk-show host Oprah Winfrey)
  • It's behind you.
  • The Italians cannot beat us, but we can certainly lose against them. (Dutch footballer Johan Cruyff)
The object of preposition will often be accompanied by modifiers (shown in italics in the following examples). The modifiers can precede or follow an object of preposition.
  • This is one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind. (Astronaut Neil Armstrong)
  • Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist. (American comedian George Carlin)
  • The people believe in men who fulfil their duty. (Cuban president Fidel Castro)
Of note, the whole caboodle the preposition (bold), the object of the preposition (underlined) and all of its modifiers (italics) is called a prepositional phrase. So, in the example above in men who fulfil their duty is a prepositional phrase.)
  • You cannot work with men who won't work with you. (American businessman John Harvey Kellogg)
  • (It can get quite complicated. Here, the prepositional phrase (with men who won't work with you) has another prepositional phrase (with you) nested within it.)
Also of note, the object of the preposition (highlighted) and any modifiers (italics) i.e., the whole caboodle minus the preposition (bold) will be a noun phrase or a noun clause.
  • Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save. (American actor Will Rogers)
  • (Here, the preposition sits before the noun phrase the time we have rushed through life trying to save. The object of the preposition with is time, which is the head noun in the noun phrase. The word the is a modifier. The clause we have rushed through life trying to save is also a modifier. It's an adjective clause.)
Let's put our focus back on the object of a preposition. The object of a preposition is the head noun (or pronoun) within the noun phrase governed by a preposition. Let's dissect that sentence using this example:
  • I have such a strong belief in women's ability to sustain each other. (American actress Deidre Hall) (The object of a preposition is the head noun (or pronoun) [ability] within the noun phrase [women's ability to sustain each other] governed by a preposition [in].)

Why Should I Care about Object of Preposition?

There are two good reasons to know about the object of a preposition.

(Reason 1) Using whom correctly

When the object of a preposition is a pronoun, it must be in the objective case. This just means that words like I, he, she, they, and who change to me, him, her, them and whom when they are governed by a preposition.
  • Go with her. (When it's the object of a preposition, she changes to her.)
Native speakers almost never get this wrong, unless we're talking about who and whom.
  • You want me to talk to whom?
  • (When it's the object of a preposition, who changes to whom.)
Here's the bottom line: Use whom after a preposition.

(Reason 2) Making sure your subject and verb agree

The object of a preposition cannot be the subject of a verb.
  • A box of magazines are under the stairs. [wrong]
  • A box of magazines is under the stairs. [correct]
Don't be fooled by the proximity of the object of the preposition to the verb. You have to ensure the subject (box) and the verb agree in number. This error is particularly common with the word each (which is singular).
  • Each of the guide dogs are assigned a trainer. [wrong]
  • Each of the guide dogs is assigned a trainer. [correct]
  • (Don't be fooled by dogs being plural. Remember, the object of a preposition (here, dogs) cannot be the subject of a verb.)
Be aware though that with some expressions (e.g., half of, proportion of, percentage of, majority of), the object of the preposition does influence the verb.
  • Half of the cakes are missing.
  • (Here, cakes means that half is treated as plural.)
  • Half of the cake is missing.
  • (Here, cake means that half is treated as singular.)
In these examples, the object of the preposition influences whether the subject (half, proportion, percentage, majority) is treated as singular or plural.

Key Points

  • Use whom after a preposition.
  • Don't let the object of a preposition drag your eye away from the subject of your verb. For example:
    • The scope of projects was too wide.
    • (Scope is singular, giving us was not were. Remember, the object of a preposition (here, projects) cannot be the subject of a verb.)
  • Each is singular, so treat an expression like each of the billion people as singular. For example:
    • Each of the billion people has a reason.
    • (not have)
  • With expressions like half of, proportion of, percentage of and majority of, the number of the object of the preposition (i.e., whether it's singular or plural) influences the verb. For example:
    • The majority of the cake has been eaten.
    • The majority of the cakes have been eaten.
Home Page Mathematics Monster Cyber Definitions Grammar Monster