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Hi folks,

I would like to ask the following question: is it possible for a prepositional phrase to function as a noun in a sentence? I am thinking of the following sentence: I told her about the meeting.

My interpretation:
Subject: I
Verb: told
Direct Object: about the meeting (I told what? About the meeting. Prep: about, OOP: meeting)
Indirect Object: her (To whom did I tell? Her.)

An analogous sentence: I told her the facts.
Subject: I
Verb: told
Direct Object: the facts (I told what? The facts.)
Indirect Object: her (To whom did I tell? Her.)

It seems pretty clear to me. But I found the following in the The Writer's Digest - Grammar Desk Reference:
"However, a prepositional phrase can't function as a noun."

Any thoughts?

Thanks in advance for any help that you might be able to provide.
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Comments  (Page 2) 
Hi grammarians!

Certainly. The sentence in case, "I told her about the meeting," shows that the prepositional phrase is a noun by its use as the object of the verb, told. In my opinion, there are no hard and fast rules in life. For as long as we can justify and rationalize, things hold true. Applied to English grammar, rules reflect rather than impose sentence arrangement or syntax. In the given sentence, if the indirect object were removed, the prepositional phrase would have functioned as an adverbial phrase. The inclusion of the IO, her, renders it the receiver of what is told, "about the meeting".
Prepositional phrases serve as modifiers, i.e. adverbs and adjectives, not nouns. Your example is flawed. "about the meeting" in not a direct object. The "What?" response of the verb to identify the direct object does not include prepositional phrases. Prepositional phrases do not serve as nouns and cannot ever serve as the subjects of sentences.

Here’s a great article on how to teach prepositional phrases: <a href="http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/grammar_mechanics/how-to-teach-prepositional-phrases / ">How to Teach Prepositional Phrases</a>
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yes thats what our english teacher teach us but i didnt copy her example...........................sorry....
"Prepositional phrases do not serve as nouns and cannot ever serve as subjects of sentences."

The facts of the language do not support that claim. Here is a perfectly workable English sentence, by novelist and short story writer Barry Hannah, from a piece in the June 2010 Harper's: "Inside the cabin was just a bit warmer than out." "Inside the cabin" is clearly the subject of this sentence, a clear example of a prepositional phrase functioning as a noun phrase.
The noun is 'eggs' in this sentence. It is identified by a determiner, 'the', before it. Several is an indefinite adjective that describes how many eggs.
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Several of the eggs were cracked.

When piecing a sentence together you always want start by putting your prepositional phrases in parenthesis so it will be easier to complete the rest of your sentence..
In this case your prepositional phrase is (of the eggs).
Next you want to find your verb(s). In this sentence your main verb is were cracked. Sometimes, their will be more than one verb. When their is more than one verb it is usually called a Helping verb.
Helping verbs come before the main verb in the sentence.
When finding helping verbs you may want to look for: am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been, has, have, had, do, does, did, can, could, would, should, shall, will, may, might, must.
I know it may seem odd, but all that's left in your sentence is "Several", so that makes several your noun. Normally, several is an adjective.
AnonymousI know it may seem odd, but all that's left in your sentence is "Several", so that makes several your noun.
No, 'several' functions as a pronoun here, as Clive said (above) over two years ago.
AnonymousI know it may seem odd, but all that's left in your sentence is "Several", so that makes several your noun. Normally, several is an adjective.
I'd say that in the noun phrase "several of the eggs", "several" belongs to the category (part of speech) determinative, as might also be found in "several eggs". Importantly, its function here is that of determiner in what's called a 'partitive fused head' construction where the head of the noun phrase and the determiner are combined, or fused. That is, the single word "several" is at the same time determiner and head. The noun phrase "several of the eggs" is partitive in the sense that it denotes a subset of the set consisting of the eggs: we understand it to mean "several eggs from the set of the eggs".

BillJ
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Thanks for the example. I am a native English speaker but couldn't immediately think of an example.

Richard Mullins
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