Skip to Content
Graduate Writing Center

Nested Portlets Nested Portlets

Web Content Display Web Content Display

Revise Excessive Prepositional Phrases


Prepositional phrases (preposition + object) tend to build up and generate confusion. Consider the following examples: 

  1. I run down the street. 
  2. I run down the street on Tuesday.
  3. I run down the street across the highway through the trees down to the beach and jump into the lake on Tuesday.

Does anyone really remember that you were running?

Cutting down some of the prepositional phrases can help your reader understand your meaning. Here are a few examples of how to do so. 

  • "The countries that had defeated Germany gathered outside of Paris and signed the Treaty of Versailles in January of 1919."
  1. Put dates first and delete ”of” between month and year: "In January 1919, the countries that defeated Germany gathered outside of Paris and signed the Treaty of Versailles."
  2. Replace two prepositions with one and put another prepositional phrase up front: "In January 1919, gathered near Paris, the countries that defeated Germany signed the Treaty of Versailles." 
  • "This war was of inevitable nature because Athens was growing at a rapid rate, and it brought concern not only to Sparta but also to city states in the surrounding areas."
  1. Use a conjunctive adverb ("inevitably") in place of six words ("This war was of inevitable nature");
  2. Replace the “was” phrase ("Athens was growing at a rapid rate") with an apostrophe and an adjective ("Athens’s rapid growth");
  3. Use specific and concise wording when possible (do we really need the "and it"?)
  4. Take an adjective out of the prepositional phrase and place it behind the noun it modifies: "city states in the surrounding areas"-->"surrounding city states";

Here we have it: "Inevitably, Athens’s rapid growth created concern for both Sparta and surrounding city states, which led to war." Your word count will love it.

Web Content Display Web Content Display

All-Topics Index


The following index makes searching for a specific topic easier and links to the appropriate place in the sequenced material. We think we have most of them, but please email us at writingcenter@nps.edu if we are missing something!

Web Content Display Web Content Display

A

abbreviations

abstracts

academic writing

acronyms

active voice

apostrophes

argument

article usage

assignments, understanding them

audience

 

B

body paragraphs

brainstorming

building better sentences tips

 

C

citations

citation styles

clarity

clustering

coaching sessions, about

colons

commas, FANBOYS

commas, introductory

commas, list

commas, nonessential elements

commas, Oxford

commonly confused words 

compare-and-contrast papers 

concision

conclusions

conjunctive adverbs

coordinating conjunctions

copyright and fair use

critical thinking  

 

D

dangling modifiers

dashes

dependent marker words

double submission of coursework

drafting

 

E

edit your own work

editing – outside editors

exclamation points

executive summary

 

F

FANBOYS

FAQs

footnotes

free-writing

 

G

gerunds

grammar

group writing

 

H

hyphens

 

I

ibid.

introductions

 

J

Joining the Academic Conversation

 

L

LaTeX

library liaisons 

literature reviews 

logic and analysis 

 

M

memos

methodologies

 

N

note-taking

numbers

 

O

organization

outlining

Oxford comma

 

P

paragraph development 

parallelism

paraphrasing

parts of speech

passive voice

periods

persuasion

phrases and clauses

plagiarism, how to avoid through citations

plain language

polishing

prepositional phrases 

prepositions

pronouns

punctuation

purpose of research

 

Q

questions

quotation marks 

quoting

 

R

reading with intent

redundancies                                                                

reference software

reflection papers 

research

research questions

reverse outlining 

revising passive voice into active voice

revision

roadmaps                                            

run-on sentences 

 

S

self-citing

semi-colons

subjects, grammatical

significance

so-what?

spelling

standard essay structure

STEM/technical writing 

style

subject/verb agreement

 

T

technical writing

that vs. which

thesis writing

thesis advisors

thesis process overview

thesis process tips

thesis proposals – common elements                                                     

thesis statements

tone, professional

topic sentences 

transitions

types of papers

 

U

United States or U.S.?

 

V

verbs and verb tense

 

W

which vs. that

Why write?

writer’s block 

writing process