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Is there a name for where prepositional phrases are in a sentence? For example, is there a name to distinguish between the following sentences?

There has not been a queen on the island.
On the island, there has not been a queen.

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  • Are you looking for a grammatical term, or just what? Commented Aug 21, 2011 at 0:57

2 Answers 2

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One difference between your sentences is that one has an introductory modifier (where the prepositional phrase is in the beginning), and the other does not. This site writes:

A prepositional phrase at the beginning of a sentence constitutes an introductory modifier, which is usually a signal for a comma. However, unless an introductory prepositional phrase is unusually long, we seldom need to follow it with a comma.

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The term you may be looking for could be Adpositional Phrase.

An adpositional phrase is a linguistics term defining a syntactic category that includes prepositional phrases and postpositional phrases. Adpositional phrases contain an adposition in the head position and usually a complement such as a noun phrase. Language syntax treats adpositional phrases as units that act as complements or adjuncts. Postpositional and prepositional phrases differ by the order of the words used. Head-first languages such as English normally use prepositional phrases while head-final languages use postpositional.

Consider the second example-sentence you gave us.

On this island, there has not been a queen.

I don't think that this sentence is grammatically wrong, but the modifier/preposition/Object of the sentence is reversed from the first sentence. Thus, the postpositional phrase. Now consider the first example-sentence you gave us.

There has not been a queen on this island.

There now, now it looks like a sentence we use everyday! It's because the sentence changes by how you position the modifier, the adposition and the object of the adposition.

P.S. I changed the word "the" into "this" because I felt that it fit better into the sentence.

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  • I don't think this is right. An adpositional phrase includes prepositional phrases, but it doesn't determine where the sentence fragment should go.
    – user10893
    Commented Aug 21, 2011 at 0:46
  • @simchona The position of the sentence fragment determine whether it is postposition or preposition, doesn't it? Commented Aug 21, 2011 at 0:55
  • Not quite. English uses prepositions, other languages have postpositions. It refers to how you put sentences together, but not word order in terms of where the phrase "on this island" goes. It differentiates the syntax of different languages, not within the same language. Does that make sense?
    – user10893
    Commented Aug 21, 2011 at 0:59
  • @simchona Dang. Now what... Commented Aug 21, 2011 at 1:03

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