23. Missing or Incomplete Prepositional Phrases

A prepositional phrase consists of a preposition (in, at, with, for, until, and so on) followed by a noun phrase or pronoun, which is called the prepositional object. Prepositional phrases often describe relationships of time and location, among others.

In the autumn, maple leaves turn red.
Beacon Hill is one of the most famous neighborhoods in Boston.
With luck, there won’t be any more problems.
This house was built by John’s grandfather.

Often, prepositional phrases come at the beginning of sentences, but they may appear in other parts of the sentence as well.
The correct answer for this type of item may be a preposition, its object, or both, as well as other parts of the sentence.
You may see prepositions in distractors, especially before the subject of a sentence. Remember, the object of a preposition cannot correctly be the subject of a sentence, as in these examples:

*In the autumn is my favorite season.
*Without a pencil is no way to come to a test.

Sample Item

________________ the unaided eye can sec about 6,000 stars.

(A) A clear night
(B) It’s a clear night
(C) On a clear night
(D) When a clear night

Choice (A) is incorrect because there is no connector to join the noun phrase a clear night to the rest of the sentence. Choice (B) consists of an independent clause, but there is no connector to join it to the other clause. (D) seems to form a subordinate clause, but the clause lacks a verb. Therefore, the correct answer is (C).

___________ all the field crops grown in the United States are harvested with machines called combines .

(A) Of nearly
(B) Nearly
(C) That nearly
(D) Nearly of

Choices (A) and (D) are incorrect because the subject of a sentence (all the field crops) cannot be the object of a preposition (of). Choice (C) creates a noun clause, but the noun clause lacks a verb. Therefore, the correct answer is (B).

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