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Prepositions, Conjunctions, and Interjections

Prepositions, Conjunctions, and Interjections

Author: Gavin McCall

This lesson teaches prepositions, conjunctions, interjections, and misplaced modifiers.

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Welcome back to English Composition. I'm Gavin McCall. Thanks for joining me. What are we going to learn today? Today we'll be talking about parts of speech, the eight different jobs that words do in a sentence.

They are nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, and the three we'll be focusing on today, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections. Learning to recognize and use these parts of speech is an important basis for learning to recognize and use grammar. So let's get started.

The first part of speech we'll look at are prepositions. These are words that show the connections between nouns, pronouns, or other words in a sentence. Most often, when we use prepositions, we're using them to display the temporal or spatial relationships between words.

Take these two sentences, for example. "The book is on the table." And, "he did the dishes after dinner." In both of these, the underlined preposition is explaining the connection between its subject noun, the book and the dishes, respectively, and the rest of the sentence. Prepositions can also be used to explain logical connections. For example, if I was to say that "you need to learn to swim without fear," "without" is the preposition, functioning in this case as an adverb, to explain in what way you should learn to swim.

Next, let's talk about conjunctions. Conjunctions are similar to prepositions in that they function as connectors. But unlike prepositions, they don't connect words to other words, but phrases to other phrases. They join different parts of a sentence together.

There are three types of conjunctions. The first are called coordinating conjunctions, and they work by connecting words and independent clauses. For example, if I was to say "she only likes roses and tulips," the "and" connects tulips to the phrase "she only likes." Adding it to roses, essentially.

The next type is subordinating conjunctions. These are conjunctions that indicate the nature of the relationship between clauses in a sentence. For example, "if I get home in time, I won't miss the game tonight." Here the word "if" is all readers have to go on to understand the relationship between the clauses "I get home in time" and "I won't miss the game tonight." "If" is establishing the relationship between them.

The last kind of conjunction is a correlative conjunction, which always appears in pairs. You use them to link two correlating sentence pieces. The most common ones are both/and, either/or, and neither/nor. For example, in the sentence, "both my dog and my cat are hungry," "both" and "and" are the correlative conjunction connecting the two noun phrases, "my dog" and "my cat."

And last but not least, we have interjections. These are the parts of speech you're least likely to find in an academic text, because they're generally considered too informal. When you do find them, they're probably included in part of a quote.

Interjections, as you might have already guessed from either their name or my disclaimer, are words or phrases designed to command or express strong emotion that can be inserted into a sentence or standalone. Interjections are interesting in that they generally don't have any grammatical relationship with any other part of the sentence. Let's look at a couple so you can see what I mean.

If I was to say, "I can't speak for everyone, but oh man that speech was boring," the interjection "oh man" expresses emotion, but otherwise, it doesn't fit with the sentence at all. If you wrote that in an academic essay, your teachers, your readers or reviewers, would most likely tell you to remove it. Here's another example. "Hey! Put that down." Here the "hey" is added for emphasis to the command.

Notice that here it's not even part of the sentence. That's because interjections are really more verbal than written. When you see them, you're most likely seeing writing that's imitating speech, whether it's supposed to be or not. For example, you probably shouldn't write "oh no, we forgot to include that claim in your argument" the next time you write an essay.

We're also going to talk very quickly about one more grammatical issue, misplaced modifier. This happens when a sentence doesn't make clear who is performing what action. For example, if I wrote "having looked everywhere, my keys were nowhere to be found." At first, this might seem OK, but technically, what I said was that my keys had looked everywhere. Not what I intended to write.

There are, of course, many possible revisions. One would be simply add a clearer subject stating that "I'd looked everywhere, and my keys were nowhere to be found." Here we can clearly see who is performing what action. The key to avoiding misplaced modifiers and other grammatical faux pas is awareness and practice. Remember that in many ways writing is a second language, one that, like any other, requires time and effort to master.

So what did we learn today? We learned about parts of speech, especially prepositions, which show the logical and spatial relationships between nouns, and conjunctions, which connect the parts of a sentence, as well as interjections, which express commands or strong emotion. I'm Gavin McCall. Thanks for joining me.

Terms to Know

A word or phrase that connects parts of a sentence.


A word or phrase, designed to express strong emotion or to command, that can be inserted into a sentence or stand alone.


A word that shows the connections between a noun, pronoun, or other words in a sentence.