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What is a Preposition?

A preposition links nouns, pronouns and phrases to other words in a sentence. The word or phrase that the preposition introduces is called the object of the preposition. A preposition usually indicates the temporal, spatial or logical relationship of its object to the rest of the sentence as in the following examples: The book is on the table. The book is beneath the table. The book is leaning against the table. The book is beside the table. She held the book over the table. She read the book during class. In each of the preceding sentences, a preposition locates the noun "book" in space or in time. A prepositional phrase is made up of the preposition, its object and any associated adjectives or adverbs. A prepositional phrase can function as a noun, an adjective, or an adverb. The most common prepositions are "about," "above," "across," "after," "against," "along," "among," "around," "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," "till," "to," "toward," "under," "underneath," "until," "up," "upon," "with," "within," and "without." Each of the highlighted words in the following sentences is a preposition: The children climbed the mountain without fear. In this sentence, the preposition "without" introduces the noun "fear." The prepositional phrase "without fear" functions as an adverb describing how the children climbed. There was rejoicing throughout the land when the government was defeated. Here, the preposition "throughout" introduces the noun phrase "the land." The prepositional phrase acts as an adverb describing the location of the rejoicing. The spider crawled slowly along the banister. The preposition "along" introduces the noun phrase "the banister" and the prepositional phrase "along the banister" acts as an adverb, describing where the spider crawled. The dog is hiding under the porch because it knows it will be punished for chewing up a new pair of shoes.

Here the preposition "under" introduces the prepositional phrase "under the porch," which acts as an adverb modifying the compound verb "is hiding." The screenwriter searched for the manuscript he was certain was somewhere in his office. Similarly in this sentence, the preposition "in" introduces a prepositional phrase "in his office," which acts as an adverb describing the location of the missing papers.

A preposition is a word which shows relationships among other words in the sentence. The relationships include direction, place, time, cause, manner and amount. In the sentence She went to the store, to is a preposition which shows direction. In the sentence He came by bus, by is a preposition which shows manner. In the sentence They will be here at three o'clock, at is a preposition which shows time and in the sentence It is under the table, under is a preposition which shows place. A preposition always goes with a noun or pronoun which is called the object of the preposition. The preposition is almost always before the noun or pronoun and that is why it is called a preposition. The preposition and the object of the preposition together are called a prepositional phrase. The following chart shows the prepositions, objects of the preposition, and prepositional phrases of the sentences above.

Preposition to by at

Object of the Preposition the store bus three o'clock

Prepositional Phrase to the store by bus at three o'clock

under

the table

under the table

Prepositional phrases are like idioms and are best learned through listening to and reading as much as possible. Below are some common prepositions of time and place and examples of their use. Prepositions of time: at two o'clock on Wednesday in an hour, in January; in 1992 for a day Prepositions of place: at my house in New York, in my hand on the table near the library across the street under the bed between the books

Definition: Prepositions are a class of words that indicate relationships between nouns, pronouns and other words in a sentence. Most often they come before a noun. They never change their form, regardless of the case, gender etc. of the word they are referring to. Some common prepositions are: about above across after against along among around 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 till to toward under underneath until up upon with within without.

Prepositions typically come before a noun: For example:


y y y y y y

after class at home before Tuesday in London on fire with pleasure

A preposition usually indicates the temporal, spatial or logical relationship of its object to the rest of the sentence. For example:
y y y

The book is on the table. The book is beside the table. She read the book during class.

In each of the preceding sentences, a preposition locates the noun "book" in space or in time. Prepositions are classified as simple or compound. Simple prepositions Simple prepositions are single word prepositions. These are all showed above. For example:
y

The book is on the table.

Compound prepositions Compound prepositions are more than one word. in between and because of are prepositions made up of two words - in front of, on behalf of are prepositions made up of three words. For example:
y y

The book is in between War and Peace and The Lord of the Rings. The book is in front of the clock.

Examples:
y y y

The children climbed the mountain without fear. There was rejoicing throughout the land when the government was defeated. The spider crawled slowly along the banister.

The following table contains rules for some of the most frequently used prepositions in English: Prepositions of Time: English
y

Usage
y y y y y

Example
y

on

days of the week months / seasons time of day year after a certain period of time (when?) for night for weekend a certain point of time (when?)

on Monday in August / in winter in the morning in 2006 in an hour

in

y y y y

at

y y y

y y y

at night at the weekend at half past nine

English
y

Usage
y

Example
y

since

from a certain point of time (past till now) over a certain period of time (past till now) a certain time in the past earlier than a certain point of time telling the time telling the time marking the beginning and end of a period of time in the sense of how long something is going to last in the sense of at the latest up to a certain time

since 1980

for ago before to past to / till / until till / until

for 2 years 2 years ago before 2004 ten to six (5:50) ten past six (6:10) from Monday to/till Friday He is on holiday until Friday. I will be back by 6 oclock. By 11 o'clock, I had read five pages.

y y

y y y

y y y

y y

by

y y

y y

Prepositions of Place: English


y y

Usage room, building, street, town, country book, paper etc. car, taxi picture, world meaning next to, by an object for table for events place where you are to do something typical (watch a
y y y y

Example in the kitchen, in London in the book in the car, in a taxi in the picture, in the world at the door, at the station at the table at a concert, at the party at the cinema, at school, at work

in

y y y y

at

y y y

y y y y

English

Usage film, study, work)


y y y y y y y

Example

on

attached for a place with a river being on a surface for a certain side (left, right) for a floor in a house for public transport for television, radio left or right of somebody or something on the ground, lower than (or covered by) something else lower than something else but above ground covered by something else meaning more than getting to the other side (also across) overcoming an obstacle higher than something else, but not directly over it getting to the other side (also over) getting to the other side something with limits on top, bottom and the sides movement to person or building movement to a place or country

y y y y y y y

the picture on the wall London lies on the Thames. on the table on the left on the first floor on the bus, on a plane on TV, on the radio Jane is standing by / next to / beside the car.

by, next to, beside

y y

under

the bag is under the table

below

the fish are below the surface put a jacket over your shirt over 16 years of age walk over the bridge climb over the wall

over

y y y y y

y y y y

above

a path above the lake

y y

across
y y

y y

walk across the bridge swim across the lake

through

drive through the tunnel go to the cinema go to London / Ireland go to bed

y y

to
y

y y y

English
y

Usage for bed enter a room / a building movement in the direction of something (but not directly to it) movement to the top of something in the sense of where from
y

Example

into

go into the kitchen / the house go 5 steps towards the house

y y

towards

onto from

jump onto the table a flower from the garden