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I just want to make sure that I can start a sentence after a preposition. because I have seen some sentences that were started with prepositions like this

  • In the closet is where I keep the dog food.
  • With hard work comes success.
  • On top of the mountain was an abandoned mining town.

so how is this possible?, normally English grammar says you can not start a sentence with a preposition then how this is possible?

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    Of all the bizarre ideas I've ever heard, "English grammar says you can not start a sentence with a preposition" takes the biscuit! :) Commented Nov 9, 2023 at 4:57
  • 4
    Please cite the source or sources which claim that sentences cannot begin with a preposition.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Nov 9, 2023 at 5:28
  • Because it is not a preposition; it's a prepositional phrase.
    – Lambie
    Commented Nov 9, 2023 at 15:32
  • @Sammed Are you clear about this now?
    – BillJ
    Commented Nov 11, 2023 at 11:30

3 Answers 3

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Good question! There are a couple of reasons that a sentence can start with a prepositional phrase immediately followed by a verb.

  • In the closet is where I keep the dog food.

In this sentence, "in the closet" is a prepositional phrase that describes a location. Occasionally, such prepositional phrases can serve as subjects. The sentence means the same thing as "The closet is where I keep the food", but emphasizes that the relation between the food and the closet is an "in" relation.

It can also work when the spatial relation is not obvious without the preposition: "Under/beside the desk is where I keep the books". It is basically short for "The place under/beside the desk is where I keep the books".

  • With hard work comes success.
  • On top of the mountain was an abandoned mining town.

These are inverted sentences: whereas the normal declarative order would be subject-verb-complement, in these sentences it is complement-verb-subject. These sentences are equivalent to:

  • Success comes with hard work.
  • An abandoned mining town was on top of the mountain.

The subject precedes the verb in most declarative sentences. However, inverted sentences occur in certain narrative descriptions—especially when introducing a new thing by first giving its location ("On top of the mountain was..."). You can tell it is the subject because the verb changes if it is plural: "On top of the mountain were three houses."

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I just want to make sure that I can start a sentence after a preposition. Normally English grammar says you can not start a sentence with a preposition…

There is no such rule.

You may be misremembering the old fashioned, and made-up rule that used to be taught to school children until the mid-20th century. Namely that a sentence shouldn't end with a preposition. A sentence such as

  1. “Who do you live with?”
    would have been considered poor style or too informal by many teachers and corrected as

  2. “With whom do you live?”

As you can see, the outdated and more formal version actually begins with a preposition.

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[1] [In the closet] is where I keep the dog food.

[2] [With hard work] comes success.

[3] [On top of the mountain] was an abandoned mining town.

There is no such rule. All three are fine. Note that:

In [1] we could have an interrogative tag, "isn't it?", where "it" is anaphoric to "in the closet", showing that the latter is subject.

[2] contains preposing. The PP "with hard work" is preposed to the front of the clause. The basic version is "Success comes with hard work".

[3] contains subject-dependent inversion. We could replace "an abandoned mining town" with "two abandoned mining towns", which would require that we replace "was" by "were", with the agreement showing that "an abandoned town" is the subject.

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