In this grammar book I am working through, prepositions are defined as words that connect certain nouns and pronouns (AKA objects of prepositions) to clauses. However, in the following sentence, I am not sure how this is the case:

The man in the blue shirt stood in front of the store.

I understand that the object of the preposition is shirt, but how come it is connected to "The man" if "The man" is clearly not a clause? Similarly, how does the other object of the preposition (store) connect to "The man" (since it's not a clause)?

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    Prepositions can also connect nouns to nouns. Are you sure that your grammar book doesn't allow for this possibility? Maybe a noun counts as a noun clause by itself. Apr 10, 2021 at 21:34
  • There are a lot of poor grammar books out there. Prepositions are defined in English usually by giving a list of the most common ones, and optionally noting that they tend to fade between preposition, adverb, and conjunction usages. As @PeterShor points out, there are lots of other uses for prepositions than what you quoted. Typically prepositional phrases modify nouns, verbs, verb phrases, and clauses, which leaves a lot of room for them. Apr 10, 2021 at 22:02
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    I agree with JL. In your example the preposition phrase "in the blue shirt" modifies the noun "man" to give the larger noun phrase "the man in the blue shirt".
    – BillJ
    Apr 11, 2021 at 8:44

1 Answer 1


Prepositional phrases that look like they don't connect nouns to clauses can be interpreted such that there's an assumed that is or which is which introduces a relative clause.

The man [that is] in the blue shirt stood in front of the store.

The books [that are] on the shelf are the ones I wanted.

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