Prepositions, words that indicate relations between nouns, pronouns and verbs (mostly small ones like for, in, of, on, to and with but sometimes more substantial, as in the case of beneath or between), are often integral to a sentence, but writers can clutter sentences by being overly dependent on them. Here are five strategies for minimizing the number of prepositions you use:
1. Eliminate prepositions by using active voice
Shifting from passive voice to active voice, as in the revision of “The watch was obviously designed by a master craftsman” to “A master craftsman had obviously designed the watch” takes a preposition out of action. (But take care that the inversion of the sentence structure doesn’t incorrectly shift emphasis or diminish dramatic effect.)
2. Substitute an adverb for a prepositional phrase
In the writer’s toolbox, adverbs are stronger tools than prepositional phrases. Revision of the sentence “The politician responded to the allegations with vehemence” to “The politician responded vehemently to the allegations” strengthens the thought and deletes the weak preposition with.
3. Use a genitive in place of a prepositional phrase