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A prepositional complement is the noun phrase that follows a preposition. So, given sentences like

John saw the woman with an umbrella.

and

John saw the moon with a telescope.

The prepositional phrases are with an umbrella and with a telescope. And the prepositional complements are an umbrella and a telescope. In the first sentence, the modified phrase is an NP, and in the second, it is a verb.

What is(are) the term(s) for parts modified by these PPs?

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    'Receiver' is not a grammatical term; I assume you mean 'modify'; and what you call a 'complement' is called an 'object'. Prepositional phrases can modify other phrases or whole clauses, as well as nouns. With an umbrella modifies the woman, a noun phrase; it's identificational, describing the woman. With a telescope modifies saw the moon, a verb phrase; it's instrumental, describing the means used. He saw the woman with a telescope is ambiguous between these two meanings. – jlawler May 17 '13 at 14:14
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    Another useful term is scope, which more or less means "that which is modified", so the scope of the prepositional phrases is different between the two examples: in the first one, the scope of with an umbrella is (the) woman; in the second one, the scope of with a telescope is (John) saw the moon. Here is an interesting article about the scope of adverbial clauses, although it uses many technical terms at some point: Adverbial clauses, Functional Grammar, and the change from sentence grammar to discourse-text grammar. – Cerberus May 17 '13 at 15:15
  • @jlawler: I did mean 'modify'. I'll fix that in the question. I keep coming across conflicting definitions of "prepositional complement" and "prepositional object". I'll happily defer to you on that, but I won't change it in this question because I'll also have to change the URL I link to. – prash May 17 '13 at 15:44
  • I also usually hear prepositional object, but I think prepositional complement is perhaps equally clear? The only alternative interpretation would have to be "a complement to the verb that happens to be a prepositional phrase" (which is not what you mean). This unwanted interpretation is not possible with "object". – Cerberus May 17 '13 at 16:03
  • Outside the specific reference to a complement clause as a noun clause with a grammatical relation to the predicate, I think the word complement is too vague to be of use. What does it add to distinguish the consituent it labels? Why call it something vague like complement if you can call it a noun phrase or an object and be specific? – jlawler May 17 '13 at 17:10
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People had already given me the answer I was looking for, but as comments to the question. I'll just paste them here for posterity, and mark the question answered.

jlawler: 'Receiver' is not a grammatical term; I assume you mean 'modify'; and what you call a 'complement' is called an 'object'. Prepositional phrases can modify other phrases or whole clauses, as well as nouns. With an umbrella modifies the woman, a noun phrase; it's identificational, describing the woman. With a telescope modifies saw the moon, a verb phrase; it's instrumental, describing the means used. He saw the woman with a telescope is ambiguous between these two meanings.

Cerberus: Another useful term is scope, which more or less means "that which is modified", so the scope of the prepositional phrases is different between the two examples: in the first one, the scope of with an umbrella is (the) woman; in the second one, the scope of with a telescope is (John) saw the moon. Here is an interesting article about the scope of adverbial clauses, although it uses many technical terms at some point: Adverbial clauses, Functional Grammar, and the change from sentence grammar to discourse-text grammar.

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    An interesting distinction appears in the Jlawler's and Cerberus' comments above. Jlawler states that "with the telescope" can be a modifier of the verb phrase "saw the moon", whereas Cerberus comments that "with the telescope" can have "(John) saw the moon" in its scope. In my view, Cerberus' comment has got it right. The PP "with the telescope" modifies the entire clause "John saw the moon", not just the VP "saw the moon". – Tim Osborne Sep 19 '14 at 3:18

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