Prepositions: Their Meaning and Usage

Prepositions are words that help establish relationships between different parts of a sentence. They indicate the position or direction of one thing in relation to another, such as location, time, and manner.

Common examples of prepositions include “in,” “on,” “at,” “with,” “by,” and “to.” Prepositions can be used to link nouns, pronouns, and phrases together, and they often come before a noun or pronoun. Correct usage of prepositions is important to ensure the clarity and meaning of a sentence. Understanding the meaning and usage of prepositions can be challenging for non-native speakers, but with practice and guidance, it is possible to improve one’s command of these important parts of speech.

 

"Diagram of prepositions showing relationships between words in a sentence"
“Mastering prepositions: essential for clear and effective communication.”

 

What is a preposition?

A preposition is a part of speech that shows the relationship between a noun or pronoun and other words in a sentence. It typically indicates the position or direction of one thing in relation to another.

Some common prepositions include “in,” “on,” “at,” “from,” “to,” “with,” “about,” “by,” “over,” “under,” “beside,” “among,” and “between.”

Prepositions are often used to indicate location, time, direction, manner, or purpose. For example, in the sentence “The cat is on the table,” “on” is the preposition that shows the relationship between the noun “cat” and the noun “table.”

Prepositions are an important part of English grammar, and it’s essential to use them correctly in order to convey meaning accurately.

 

Importance of preposition

Prepositions are essential in English grammar as they help establish relationships between different parts of a sentence, indicating the position or direction of one thing in relation to another. Correct usage of prepositions is important to ensure the clarity and meaning of a sentence. Without them, sentences can be confusing or ambiguous. Mastering prepositions is especially crucial for non-native English speakers, as preposition usage can vary widely across different languages. Strong command of prepositions is important for effective communication in both written and spoken English.

 

Common preposition Examples

 

In

I am in the kitchen.

 

On

The book is on the table.

 

At

She is at the park.

 

To

I am going to the store.

 

From

He received a letter from his friend.

 

With

She went to the beach with her family.

 

About

We had a conversation about the movie.

 

By

The house was built by the company.

 

Over

The bird flew over the house.

 

Under

The cat is under the bed.

 

Beside

He sat beside his friend.

 

Among

The flowers are among the trees.

 

Between

The restaurant is between the bank and the post office.

 

Types of prepositions

There are several types of prepositions in English

Simple prepositions:

These are the most common type of preposition, and they include words like “in,” “on,” “at,” “by,” “for,” “from,” “to,” and “with.” They show relationships between nouns and pronouns and other words in a sentence.

 

Compound prepositions:

These are prepositions that are made up of more than one word, such as “according to,” “in front of,” “in spite of,” “out of,” and “up to.”

 

Double prepositions:

These are prepositions that are made up of two words that function together as a single preposition, such as “into,” “onto,” “within,” and “upon.”

 

Participle prepositions:

These are prepositions that are formed from present participles (-ing) or past participles (-ed), such as “concerning,” “regarding,” “excepting,” and “excluding.”

 

Prepositional phrases:

These are groups of words that include a preposition and its object, as well as any modifiers that go with the object.  “in the car,” “on the table,” “under the bed,” and “with a smile” are all prepositional phrases.

 

Understanding the different types of prepositions can help you to use them more effectively in your writing and speaking, and can improve your overall understanding of English grammar.

 

Prepositional phrases Examples

Prepositional phrases are groups of words that begin with a preposition and end with a noun or pronoun, known as the object of the preposition.

 

Examples:

 

“In the morning” – indicates time

In the morning, I always have a cup of coffee to start my day.

 

“On the table” – indicates location

On the table, there was a beautiful vase of flowers that brightened up the room.

 

“With a smile” – indicates manner

With a smile, she greeted the new student and made him feel welcome.

 

“From my friend” – indicates source

From my friend, I received a thoughtful gift that showed how much she cared about me.

 

“To the park” – indicates destination

To the park, we rode our bikes and enjoyed a fun afternoon in the sun. Sentence

 

“By the river” – indicates location

By the river, we set up our picnic blanket and enjoyed a relaxing lunch.

 

“Under the bed” – indicates location

Under the bed, I found my missing sock that I had been looking for.

 

“With a book” – indicates accompanying item

With a book, she sat in the quiet corner of the library and immersed herself in a good story.

 

“For my birthday” – indicates purpose

For my birthday, my friends threw me a surprise party that made me feel loved.

 

“Without a doubt” – indicates absence

Without a doubt, he was the best candidate for the job with his impressive qualifications and experience.

 

Prepositional of time

Examples:

“In the morning”

Refers to the time period between approximately 6:00 a.m. and noon.

In the morning, I like to go for a jog to start my day.

In the morning, the sun rises and the birds start to sing.

 

“At 3:00 p.m.”

Refers to a specific time in the afternoon.

At 3:00 p.m., the meeting with the client will take place.

At 3:00 p.m., I have an appointment with the dentist.

 

“On Sunday” 

Refers to a specific day of the week.

On Sunday, I usually go to church with my family.

On Sunday, there is a big farmers’ market in the city center.

 

“For two hours”

Refers to the duration of an activity.

For two hours, she practiced playing the guitar.

For two hours, the children played at the park.

 

“Until next week”
Refers to the period of time before a certain event.

Until next week, I will be on vacation in Hawaii.

Until next week, we cannot start the project.

 

“After school”

Refers to the time period following the end of classes.

After school, I like to play basketball with my friends.

After school, the students go home to do their homework.

 

“During the summer”

Refers to a season or time period.

During the summer, we usually go to the beach for vacation.

During the summer, the weather is hot and sunny.

 

“At night”

Refers to the time period between approximately 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.

At night, I like to read a book before going to bed.

At night, the stars shine bright in the sky.

 

Prepositional of Place

Examples

 

In 

Refers to something that is inside an enclosed space.

The cat is in the box.

 

On 

Refers to something that is resting or attached to a surface.

The book is on the table.

 

At 

Refers to a specific location or point.

She is waiting at the bus stop.

 

Under 

Refers to something that is below or beneath another object.

The shoes are under the bed.

 

Over 

Refers to something that is higher than or covering another object.

The airplane flew over the city.

 

Across 

Refers to something that is on the opposite side of a surface or boundary.

We walked across the bridge.

 

Beside 

Refers to something that is next to or alongside another object.

He sat beside his friend.

 

Between 

Refers to something that is in the middle of two other objects.

The restaurant is between the bank and the post office.

 

Behind 

Refers to something that is at the back of another object.

The car is behind the house.

 

In front of 

Refers to something that is located ahead of or in the front of another object.

The tree is in front of the building.

 

Using prepositions of place can help to convey the location and spatial relationships between objects in a sentence, making it easier for readers to understand the meaning.

 

Prepositional of Movement

Examples

Across 

Refers to movement from one side to the other side of something.

She swam across the river.

 

Along 

Refers to movement in a line next to something.

We walked along the beach.

 

Through 

Refers to movement from one side to the other side of something, usually a space or obstacle.

The car drove through the tunnel.

 

Over 

Refers to movement from one side of something to the other side by going up and over it.

The athlete jumped over the hurdle.

 

Under 

Refers to movement from one side of something to the other side by going below it.

The cat crawled under the bed.

 

Up 

Refers to movement to a higher position.

We climbed up the mountain.

 

Down 

Refers to movement to a lower position.

She walked down the stairs.

 

Towards 

Refers to movement in the direction of something.

The dog ran towards the ball.

 

Away from 

Refers to movement in the opposite direction of something.

He walked away from the building.

 

To 

Refers to movement towards a specific place or location.

We went to the park.

 

Using prepositions of movement can help to describe the direction and manner in which an action is performed, providing clarity and detail to a sentence.

 

Examples of preposition used in sentences

The cat is on the mat.

In this sentence

the preposition “on” describes the location of the cat relative to the mat.

 

She ran through the park.

In this sentence

the preposition “through” describes the movement of the subject (she) through the park.

 

The book is under the table.

In this sentence

the preposition “under” describes the location of the book relative to the table.

 

The flowers are in the vase.

In this sentence

the preposition “in” describes the location of the flowers inside the vase.

 

I’m going to the store.

In this sentence

the preposition “to” describes the direction of movement towards the store.

 

We met at the restaurant.

In this sentence

the preposition “at” describes the location of the meeting (restaurant).

 

He is working for the company.

In this sentence

the preposition “for” describes the relationship between the subject (he) and the company.

 

She’s been studying since morning.

In this sentence

the preposition “since” describes the starting point of the action (morning).

 

They arrived after the party started.

In this sentence

the preposition “after” describes the time relationship between the arrival and the start of the party.

 

The dog ran towards the park.

In this sentence

the preposition “towards” describes the direction of the movement of the dog towards the park.

 

Prepositions are important for conveying relationships between words and adding clarity to a sentence.

 

Preposition list

List of some commonly used prepositions in English:

About

Above

Across

After

Against

Along

Among

Around

As

At

Before

Behind

Below

Beneath

Beside

Between

Beyond

But

By

Despite

Down

During

Except

For

From

In

Inside

Into

Like

Near

Of

Off

On

Onto

Out

Outside

Over

Past

Since

Through

Throughout

To

Toward

Under

Underneath

Until

Up

Upon

With

Within

 

List of Parts of speech

Nouns

Pronouns

Adjectives

Verbs

Adverbs

Prepositions

Conjunctions

Interjections

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