"...in a process of reflection in which hopes, goals, and desires are transformed."

"At its most simple, it..."

"At its most complicated, it..."

I think the last two ARE prepositional phrases because "at" is a preposition and then "its most simple/complicated" is a nominal phrase. Is this correct?

But then for the first one, I am unsure if the last bolded part at the end of the sentence is a prepositional phrase because although the preposition "in" is followed by nouns, it ends in a verb phrase...

^ (I know that "in a process" and "of reflection" are prepositional phrases though)

(Please note that this is for a school exercise, so I can't just re-write it)

  • 1
    There is a prepositional phrase involved in that first sentence, but the whole bolded chunk is not a prepositional phrase. Note that the preposition in could also occur at the end of the relative clause, instead of being moved with which: a process (which) hopes, goals, and desires are transformed in. If you do it that way, you can leave out the which altogether, or better yet don't use the passive at all -- make process the subject of transform and the other nouns its objects. Apr 6, 2023 at 23:23
  • 1
    The first sentence is inverted, you can see how the preposition fits in if you rewrite it as "hopes, goals, and desires are transformed in this process". "in which" makes the object of the preposition the noun phrase preceding it.
    – Barmar
    Apr 6, 2023 at 23:25
  • @Barmar So I would highlight "process in" as the prepositional phrase?
    – Dee
    Apr 6, 2023 at 23:44
  • I would say "a process in which" is the preprositional phrase.
    – Barmar
    Apr 6, 2023 at 23:45
  • Process is the noun that the prepositional phrase in which modifies. It's not part of the phrase. Apr 7, 2023 at 0:03

1 Answer 1


The last part of your first example ("in which hopes, goals, and desires are transformed") is a relative clause modifying either the nominal phrase "a process of reflection" or merely "reflection". It contains a subject ("hopes, goals, and desires"), a finite verb catena ("are transformed"), and an adverbial prepositional phrase modifying the verb ("in which").

As noted in the comments above, the preposition may be "stranded" at the end of the clause:

...in a process of reflection which hopes, goals, and desires are transformed in.

In that case, the relative pronoun may be realized by "that" or omitted entirely:

...in a process of reflection that hopes, goals, and desires are transformed in.

...in a process of reflection hopes, goals, and desires are transformed in.

As you study phrases and clauses in school, I'd encourage you to look into relative clauses; they are very common in English, and this is a fairly typical example of one.

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