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complex preposition


complex preposition

Examples of two-word complex prepositions


A word group (such as "along with" or "on account of") that functions like an ordinary one-word preposition.

Complex prepositions can be divided into two groups:

  • two-word units (a word + a simple preposition), such as apart from (also known as compound prepositions)
  • three-word units (a simple preposition + a noun + a simple preposition), such as by means of (also known as phrasal prepositions)
See Examples and Observations, below.

See also:

Examples of Complex Prepositions in English:

according to
ahead of
along with
apart from
as for
as well as
aside from
away from
because of
but for
by means of
by virtue of
by way of
close to
contrary to
due to
except for
far from
for lack of
in accordance with
in addition to
in back of
in between
in (the) case of
in charge of
in exchange for
in front of
in light of
in line with
in place of
in (the) process of
in regard to
inside of
in spite of
instead of
in view of
near to
next to
on account of
on behalf of
on top of
out of
outside of
owing to
prior to
subsequent to
such as
thanks to
together with
up against
up to
up until
with respect to

Examples of Complex Prepositions in Sentences:

  • "Up until Pearl Harbor, half of the 48 states had laws making it illegal to employ a married woman."
    (Bill Bryson, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid. Broadway Books, 2006)

  • "Thank God men cannot as yet fly and lay waste the sky as well as the earth!"
    (Henry David Thoreau, Journals, January 3, 1861)

  • "But our deeds are like children that are born to us; they live and act apart from our own will. Nay, children may be strangled, but deeds never: they have an indestructible life both in and out of our consciousness."
    (George Eliot, Romola, 1862-1863)

  • "To ensure that it was not for lack of appetite that the spider had rejected the moth, I offered the spider an edible scarab beetle, which it promptly took."
    (Thomas Eisner, For Love of Insects. Harvard University Press, 2003)

  • "Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel from coast to coast without seeing anything."
    (Charles Kuralt, On the Road With Charles Kuralt. Putnam, 1985)

  • "To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle."
    (George Orwell, "In Front of Your Nose." Tribune, March 22, 1946)

  • "In addition to my other numerous acquaintances, I have one more intimate confidant. My depression is the most faithful mistress I have known. No wonder, then, that I return the love."
    (Soren Kierkegaard, Either/Or, 1843; translated 1987)

  • "Her name is Miss Mey. She owns all the land for miles around, as well as the house in which we live."
    (Alice Walker, "Beauty: When the Other Dancer Is the Self," 1983)

  • "Man, unlike any other thing organic or inorganic in the universe, grows beyond his work, walks up the stairs of his concepts, emerges ahead of his accomplishments."
    (John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath. Viking, 1939)


  • "As opposed to simple prepositions, compound prepositions are two or three words in length. . . .
    Juan's car is parked in front of the store.
    Notice how the compound preposition in front of describes the relationship between Juan's car and the store.
    Uga sat next to Marta at the pep rally.
    In the above sentence, the compound preposition next to describes where Uga sat in relation to Marta.
    We were late because of the heavy traffic.
    In this last example, the compound preposition because of shows the relationship between the lateness and the heavy traffic."
    (Jeffrey Strausser and Jose Paniza, Painless English For Speakers of Other Languages. Barron's, 2007)

  • "'Phrasal preposition' or 'complex preposition' (Quirk et al. 1985: 670) denotes the structure 'Preposition1 + Noun + Preposition2.' A variety of prepositions may occupy the first position, e.g. in (in relation to), with (with regard to), by (by means of), for (for the sake of), on (on account of), at (at variance with), as well as the second position, e.g., of (in view of), for (in return for), to (in addition to), with (in conformity with). While the noun most often has a zero determiner, the definite article (e.g. with the exception of) is not infrequent; the indefinite article (e.g., as a result of) is rare."
    (Laurel J. Brinton and Minoji Akimoto, Collocational and Idiomatic Aspects of Composite Predicates in the History of English. John Benjamins, 1999)
Also Known As: phrasal preposition, compound preposition
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