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Complex Preposition

A complex preposition is a word group (such as "along with" or "on account of") that functions like an ordinary one-word preposition. Complex prepositions can be divided into two groups: two-word units (a word + a simple preposition), such as apart from (also known as compound prepositions).

Introduction to complex prepositions

Are you curious about the concept of the complex preposition? If so, then in light of this desire of yours, it is safe to say that you have arrived at the right place. By understanding basic parts of English speech, you will be well on your way to becoming a better writer

In general, the function of a preposition is to express the relations between different parts of a sentence. A complex preposition is just a preposition consisting of more than one word. 

For example, the phrase "in light of" used above is itself a compound preposition. It expresses a relation between your desire and this webpage, and it consists of more than a single word. 

Complex prepositions in action

Here is an example of the correct use of the complex preposition. 

"The man sent a greeting card with his apologies in lieu of his presence at the party."

The complex preposition in this sentence would be "in lieu of"; it is a phrase that explains the relationship between the card and the presence. 

Now, here is an example of the complex preposition being used in an incorrect way

"The woman wrote a letter to the man their love affair, apropos of."

The complex preposition here is positioned incorrectly: it should go before "their love afair", and not at the end of the sentence. 

In case you are still a little confused about the complex preposition, here are a couple rules for you to follow to make sure you are using it correctly.

1. A complex preposition is really just like a simple preposition, except that it consists of a phrase rather than a single word. Usually, it is positioned either at the beginning of a sentence or in between one clause and another clause of a sentence. It is almost never found at the end of a sentence.

2. Part of the trick of using the complex preposition correctly is just to figure out which exact complex preposition you will need in order to suit your purposes. In order to figure this out, remember that the preposition always expresses a relation between one thing and another thing. So, focus on those things, and then figure out how they are related. 

Additional background information

It is worth bearing in mind that there is actually very little that is "complex" about the complex preposition, aside from the fact that it consists of a phrase instead of a single word. The structure of a complex preposition, though, may make it easier for you to identify than the simple preposition. For example, simple words such as "with", "in", and "from" are actually prepositions; but they are so common that it is almost difficult to even pay attention to them at all, even though they play a crucial role in English grammar. 

The complex preposition, on the other hand, has a somewhat more "sophisticated" sound to it; a good example would be "in accordance with", or "on behalf of". The relative length of a complex preposition may also be able to convey a relatively more complex relationship between objects. Ultimately, though, the structure of any complex preposition is the following: a simple preposition, followed by a noun, followed by another simple preposition. This can be seen, for instance, in both of the examples of the complex preposition provided above. Click here to see a list of other prepositions in the English language.

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