Fronted Adverbials – starting with prepositions

This post focuses on one method of writing fronted adverbials – using prepositions as the first word.

This can be done with both types of preposition: 1. those that describe where something is, and 2. those that describe the movement of something. For example, Mole in The Wind in the Willows:

  1. By its side he trotted spellbound; and when tired at last, he sat on the opposite bank.
  2. From out of the hole of an old beech tree came a feeble voice, saying, “Ratty! Is that really you!”

    Ratty finds Mole.jpg
    From ‘The Wind in the Willows’ by Kenneth Grahame, illustrated by Inga Moore (Walker, 2000)

In the first example, Mole is enjoying the river in spring; in the second, he is rescued from the Wild Wood by Ratty.

(Begin aside: I’ve taught in many schools and never come across one that has used The Wind in the Willows as a unit text.  I don’t know why.  It’s such a beautifully-written book, full of verve, wit and adventure.  The one I’ve got, abridged and illustrated by Inga Moore – who you would recognise as the illustrator of Six Dinner Sid – has the most stunning illustrations, full of love for nature and the countryside.  They also illustrate the text really clearly, which is another reason for using this text.  End aside.)

The use of prepositions at the beginning of the sentence really is a literary device: you rarely hear people use it in normal speech.  I think it’s helpful to explain to children that this is the case – that it can feel forced and artificial – but it’s an effective one used by many picture book authors.

Click here for a PowerPoint with images from a range of picture books and the sentences that go with them.  The sentences all start with fronted adverbials using prepositions that explain where something is.

I’d suggest showing these to pupils as they illustrate the idea really well.  You can then use images with a main idea provided, the task being to put a fronted adverbial before the main idea, one that explains where something in the image is.  Something like this.