Prepositions, Interjections and Conjunctions

Prepositions

Many prepositions introduce phrases related to direction or location, as in:

I drove to the store.

The castle in the sand soon washed away.

To is the preposition in the first sentence, and in is the preposition in the second sentence. And each of them introduces a prepositional phrase (to the store or in the sand).

You may have often heard the rule Do not end a sentence with a preposition. This would require you to prefer the second of the following examples:

That's the game I'm going to.

That's the game to which I'm going.

The second sentence is a bit awkward, since it includes an extra word (which) and does not sound like normal human speech. Nonetheless, many readers will prefer that sentence to the first. I don't advocate rewriting every sentence to avoid ending with a preposition, but it's a good idea to keep sentences like the first to a minimum.

Some sentences, however, should end with a preposition. Consider these examples:

This is English that I will not put up with.

This is English up with which I will not put.

Legend has it that Winston Churchill composed the second sentence (or something like it) to make fun of an editor who refused to allow end-of-sentence prepositions. You can see Churchill's point.

Interjections

Interjections are words that serve no purpose but to express surprise or emotion. (Think Zounds!) You really shouldn't have these in your paper. If a fact is astonishing enough to merit an Egad!, then state the fact and leave it to your readers to leap from their seats and cry out Leaping lizards!

Conjunctions

Conjunctions, such as and, but, for, or, and so, can serve several different functions. Consider these examples:

He bought a car and a boat.

He sold his car and bought a boat.

He sold his car, but he refused to sell his boat.

How do these examples differ?

  • In the first sentence, and connects two noun phrases: a car and a boat.
  • In the second sentence, and connects two verb-plus-noun phrases: sold his car and bought a boat.
  • In the third sentence, but connects two independent clauses: He sold his car but he refused to sell his boat. When a conjunction connects two independent clauses, we call it a coordinating conjunction and place a comma before it.

Conjunctive adjectives, such as however, therefore, and nonetheless, can also connect two independent clauses. When they perform this function, they are usually preceded by a semicolon and followed by a comma:

Check out the article on indicating logical connections for other examples. Here, I will only mention that for and so can also function as other parts of speech: for as a preposition, so as an adverb.

He bought an expensive car; however, he couldn't afford a boat.

He bought an expensive car; therefore, he couldn't afford a boat.

Parts of Speech

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