Tag Archives: prepositions

Teaching Prepositions (with Facebook Live Teaching Video!)

Teaching Prepositions (with Facebook Live Teaching Video!)

My co-author and co-teacher (and amazing first born) just asked me a crucial grammar question: “How can any program not start out teaching how to find prepositional phrases and subordinate clauses?”

Of course, this led to a lengthy discussion about the two—how students can isolate these and then match up their subjects and verbs correctly; how they are crucial for sentence variety with sentence openers; and much more. (I love these discussions with my grown kids!!! 🙂 )

I touched on this in my previous blog post, “Why Teach Prepositions” that you can find here at the blog.

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Why Learn (or Teach!) Prepositions


Why Learn (or Teach!) Prepositions

“Prepositions show position!”

That is where I start. The very basics. Catchy. Easy to recite. Simple to remember.

From there, we branch out to the explanation: Prepositions show position of one thing to something else.

Of course, prepositions show time, space, and direction (among other things) of one thing to another thing. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.


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[Video] How To Use the Preposition Practice Packet

Video: How to Use the Preposition Practice Packet

In this Wondering Wednesday video, Donna Reish (author of seventy curriculum books) teaches parents how to teach propositions with meaning. Using her downloadable e-book, the Preposition Practice Packet, Donna explains the importance of understanding what prepositions do in order to memorize many of the over 200 prepositions out there.

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Preposition Practice Packet Product Intro and Video!

Preposition Practice Packet

Aboard, about, above. Along, among, around….

Whether your kids sing them, recite them, chant them, rap them, or write them…prepositions are important.

I learned them in chant-like form when I was in school. However, I never knew WHY I needed to learn them.

My newest downloadable product will teach kids prepositions—in a way that focuses on the WHY, that is, what prepositions really do!

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day 110: more prepositions as other parts of speech

I think I confused more than helped in my last post about “coming with…” I am going to elaborate a bit on the different uses that words that are commonly prepositions might have in writing:

1. First of all, a word is seldom a certain part of speech in isolation. Words are called parts of speech because they are used in a certain way in speech (and writing). Thus, it is often incorrect to say that, for instance, a dog is a noun. You can be dog tired. You can dog somebody to pay you. A part of speech is a part of speech when it is used–not in isolation.

2. Thus, the preposition as other parts of speech problem. We have students memorize lists of prepositions (though we prefer to have them use them in Check Sentences, again, because that is how “parts of speech” are used)–but we have to remember that those prepositions are only prepositions when they are used as prepositions–how is that for confusing? Remember, a preposition must have an object following it in order to be considered as being used as a preposition.

3. Examples!!! I will list prepositions below to show how they may be used as prepositions or how they may be used as other parts of speech–again, in context.

a. Over
    i. I am coming over. (Adverb–tells where you are coming….)
    ii. Jump over the water. (Preposition–begins the prepositional phrase (PP for short): over the water…)

b. Down
  i. He fell down. (Adverb–tells where he fell..)
  ii. We rode down the hill. (Preposition–begins the PP down the hill…)

c. Before
  i. Before we go to class, let’s check our backpacks. (Subordinator–before is used as a subordinator beginning the subordinate clause before we go to class–a subordinate clause is a clause (subject/verb) that begins with a subordinator and is not a real sentence by itself.)

  ii. I heard that story before. (Adverb–tells when you heard that story…)

  iii. He has to go before the leaders. (Preposition–begins the PP before the leaders…)

Hope this helps! Feel free to write in questions–if I don’t know the answer, I will look the question up in my 600 page reference! 🙂

day 109: another pet peeve–“I’m going to come with”

Another pet peeve of mine is popping up everywhere, so I thought I would share with our readers what it is and why it sounds so incorrect to me. 

This pet peeve is people using the preposition with as an adverb (or, in the case of my daughter–with an understood object of the preposition–her way of using grammar terms to justify its use!). 

Here is the run down on what I see as this pet peeve’s problem:

1. First of all,  yes, words have multiple uses and parts of speech everywhere all the time. This is one reason why we advocate only using grammar programs for children that have the words used–not lists of words in which the student is to identify what part of speech it is. A part of speech is determined by the word’s use, not the word itself:
     a. jump–a student might determine that jump is a verb…which it can be. But it can also be a noun (she made a huge jump) and an adjective (it was a jump start program).
     b. to–a student might determine that to is a preposition…which it can be. But it can also be part of a verbal phrase known as an infinitive (to run).

2. With is not one of those “multiple use” kinds of words. With is almost always (and probably always) a preposition. 
   a. With is a preposition because a preposition is a word that shows possession, has an object with it (the object of the preposition), and is the beginning of a prepositional phrase: with her, with the show, with the leader.
  b. With is seldom, if ever, used alone as an adverb (like many other prepositions can be):
      i. She is going along. (Along is an adverb here.)
      ii. She ran along the trail. (Along is a preposition here.)

     iii. I told him to jump down. (Down is an adverb here.)
    iv. He ran down the street. (Down is a preposition here.)

3. With is not an adverb by itself. It is not the kind of word that can stand alone as another part of speech. It is a preposition that needs an object to show a relationship (with whom? with what?).

So…tell who you are going with–and use with as a preposition, the way it was intended to be used! Smile…

day 74: phrases, clauses, and sentences

We have talked at length about what a sentence contains:

C apital

A ll makes sense

V erb

E nd mark

S ubject


Again, most people have trouble witht the A one–All makes sense. When a “sentence” doesn’t make sense, it is often because it is not a sentence at all, but it is a phrase or a clause.

We are going to talk in detail about phrases and clauses in the upcoming weeks because we are going to talk a lot about sentence structure–openers, simple sentences, compound sentences, etc.

So…a little “phrase and clause” lesson is in order first:

1. Phrase–

a. Group of words

b. Group of words that is not a sentence

c. Group of words that is not a sentence and does not usually contain a subject and a verb (though may seem to have one or the other)

d. There are various types of phrases–the one that people are most familiar with is the prepositional phrase–begins with a preposition and ends with the object of the preposition:
      i. over the clouds
     ii. into the clouds
    iii. around the clouds
   iv. within the clouds
    v. under the clouds

2. Clause

a. Group of words

b. Group of words that might or might not be a sentence

c. Group of words that contains a subject and a verb

d. Two kinds of clauses

     i. Independent clause–also called a sentence

     ii. Dependent clause–also called a subordinate clause

Don’t despair! These are not as complicated as they sound! You write with them all the time–but I hope to help you recognize them and punctuate them correctly in sentences–over the next few weeks!

Happy writing!


day 64: infinitive and prepositional phrase quiz

Beside each of the phrases provided, write an I if each is an
infinitive; write PP if it is a prepositional phrase.

            1. to go           

            2. to sing           

            3. to the government           

            4. to a boy          

            5. to walk          

            6. to be          

            7. to see          

            8. to France          

            9. to John Adams         

            10. to crush         

            11. to believe          

            12. to his belief          

            13. to write          

            14. to the sun          

            15. to confess           

Day 63: Infinitives part ii of ii

Infinitives continued…
  1. They are easily confused with prepositional phrases containing the preposition to. If students learn early on when to is being used as part of an infinitive (when it is with any verb) and when it is used as a prepositional phrase (when it has an object following it), they will become better writers (for many reasons we will discuss later).
    1. Infinitive: He wanted to run.
    2. Prepositional phrases: They went to town.
3.  Infinitives are easy to recognize
because they always are to + verb.

                a. to think

                b. to be

                c. to show

      3. To can also be a preposition (a word
that shows position). To know if the to is an infinitive or a preposition,
follow these rules:

                a. Look at the word following the to.

                             b. If the word following to is a verb, you know
it is an infinitive. For
example: to know

                            c. If the word following the to is anything else
(noun, pronoun, adjective, etc.), it is a  prepositional phrase. For
example: to the house


4. Any verb can be an infinitive. It just has
to have a to in front of it.


5. The to is part of the infinitive. For
example: in the case of to see, the complete verb is to see, not just see.
Tomorrow: Infinitive “pop” quiz…can you tell the difference between an infinitive and a preposition with to? J

day 61: infinitives part i of ii

Earlier I said that we teach two main categories of verbs—action and Be a Helper, Link verbs (BHL verbs).
There is another “category” of verbs that you should learn, however. That is the group of verbs (also used as other parts of speech) known as the infinitive.
We teach infinitives as verbs (and early on) for a couple of reasons:
  1. While they might act like other parts of speech (i.e. modifying, being the sentence’s main subject, etc.) at times, more often than not, they act like verbs.
    1. They can describe what a subject is doing: The girl decided to write the letter.
    2. They can have BHL verbs with them: She had to take her medicine.
    3. They can have adverbs with them (when they are comprised of action verbs): She wanted to write beautifully.
    4. They can have direct objects with them (when they are comprised of action verbs): The girl wanted to eat chocolates.
    5. They can have predicate adjectives with them (when they are comprised of BHL verbs): She wanted to be careful.
They can have predicate nominatives with them (when they are comprised of BHL verbs): She wanted to be an actress.
Tomorrow—more on infinitives.