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.
Below is the complete list prepostions
Kinds of prepositons.
1. Simple prepositions
2. Compound prepositions
3. Double prepositions
4. Participle prepositions
5. Phrase prepositions
1. Simple prepositions.
Simple prepositions are words like in, on, at, about, over, under, off, of, for, to etc.
In In the house
On On the desk
At At school
Above Above average
Below Below 100
Over Over the fireplace
Under Under the table
Around Around the building
Through Through the door
Before Before lunch
After After 10:00
To (Go) to Colorado
From (Come) from Arizona
About A story about dogs
By Written by me
With She wouldn't go with us.
Without So we went without her.
Between Just between you and me
Among There are no secrets among us (three).
Inside Inside the room
Outside Outside the box
In front of In front of the house
Behind Behind the tree
Next to Next to the bank
Near Near the library
On top of On top of the file cabinet
Underneath Underneath the refrigerator
2. Compound preposition
A preposition that is composed of more than one word is called a compound preposition. The last word of a compound preposition is always one of the simple prepositions, so compound prepositions are easy to recognize. You will notice that many of the following compound prepositions are formed with a directional word and the simple preposition de. Remember that if a directional word is used without de, it is no longer considered a preposition.
Compound preposition are words like :
1. According to
2. Affection for
3. Affectionate to
4. Along with
5. Alternate with
6. Alternative to
7. Ambition to
8. Ambition to
9. Ambitious of
10. As for
11. As of
12. As to
13. Aside from
14. Away from
15. Because of
16. But for
17. By dint of
18. By means of
19. By reason of
20. By virtue of
21. By way of
22. Capable of
23. Capacity for
24. Confidence in
25. Confident of
26. Contrast to
27. Derogate from
28. Derogatory to
29. Descendant of
30. Descended from
31. Desires of
32. Desirous of
33. Dislike to
34. Disqualified from
35. Due to
36. Equal to
37. Equally with
38. Except for
39. Exception to
40. Fond of
42. For the sake of
43. Forward of
44. Foundation in
45. Founded on
46. Hindered from
47. Hindrance to
48. In accordance to
49. In addition to
50. In behalf of
51. In case of
52. In comparison to
53. In compliance with
54. In consequence of
55. In course of
56. In front of
57. In lieu of
58. In memoriam
59. In order to
60. In place of
61. In quest of
62. In reference to
63. In regard to
64. In search to
65. In side of
66. In spite of
67. In the event of
68. In the light of
69. In view of
70. Infatuated with
71. Infatuation for
72. Insensible to
73. Instead of
74. Liking for
75. Neglectful of
76. Negligent in
77. Next to
78. On account of
79. On behalf of
80. Out of
81. Outside of
82. Owing to
84. Prejudicial for
85. Prejudicial to
87. Prepared for
88. Prior to
89. Qualified for
90. Respect for
91. Respectful to
92. Result of
93. Resulted from
94. Seized upon
95. Seizure of
96. Sensible of
97. Subsequent to
98. Subsequent to
99. Together with
101. With a view to
102. With an eye to
103. With reference to
104. With regard to
105. With respect to
Suddenly he emerged from behind the curtain.
He walked out of the compound
3. Participle prepositions.
Participle prepositions are words like :
There was little chance of success, notwithstanding they decided to go ahead.
You did the job well, considering your age and inexperience.
4. Phrase prepositions
Phrase prepositions are phrases like because of, by means of, with regard to, on behalf of, instead of, on account of, in opposition to, for the sake of etc.
I am standing here on behalf of my friends and colleagues.
The match was cancelled because of the rain.
He succeeded by means of perseverance.
5. Prepositions and adverbs
There are some words which can be used both as prepositions and as adverbs. If a word is used as a preposition it will have a noun or pronoun as its object. Adverbs, on the other hand, do not have objects. They are used to modify a verb, adjective or another adverb.
She sat in the armchair. (In – preposition; armchair – object)
Please come in. (In – adverb; no object)
He stood before me. (Before – preposition; object – me)
I have seen him before. (Before – adverb; no object)
She put the book on the table. (On – preposition; object – the table)
Let’s move on. (On – adverb; no object)
He will return after a month. (After – preposition; object – a month)
He came soon after. (After – adverb; no object)
Prepositions Time and Place
A preposition describes a relationship between other words in a sentence. In itself, a word like "in" or "after" is rather meaningless and hard to define in mere words. For instance, when you do try to define a preposition like "in" or "between" or "on," you invariably use your hands to show how something is situated in relationship to something else. Prepositions are nearly always combined with other words in structures called prepositional phrases. Prepositional phrases can be made up of a million different words, but they tend to be built the same: a preposition followed by a determiner and an adjective or two, followed by a pronoun or noun (called the object of the preposition). This whole phrase, in turn, takes on a modifying role, acting as an adjective or an adverb, locating something in time and space, modifying a noun, or telling when or where or under what conditions something happened.
Consider the professor's desk and all the prepositional phrases we can use while talking about it.
You can sit before the desk (or in front of the desk). The professor can sit on the desk (when he's being informal) or behind the desk, and then his feet are under the desk or beneath the desk. He can stand beside the desk (meaning next to the desk), before the desk, between the desk and you, or even on the desk (if he's really strange). If he's clumsy, he can bump into the desk or try to walk through the desk (and stuff would fall off the desk). Passing his hands over the desk or resting his elbows upon the desk, he often looks across the desk and speaks of the desk or concerning the desk as if there were nothing else like the desk. Because he thinks of nothing except the desk, sometimes you wonder about the desk, what's in the desk, what he paid for the desk, and if he could live without the desk. You can walk toward the desk, to the desk, around the desk, by the desk, and even past the desk while he sits at the desk or leans against the desk.
All of this happens, of course, in time: during the class, before the class, until the class, throughout the class, after the class, etc. And the professor can sit there in a bad mood [another adverbial construction].
Prepositions of Place: at, in, on
In general, we use:
- at for a POINT
- in for an ENCLOSED SPACE
- on for a SURFACE
at the corner
in the garden
on the wall
at the bus stop
on the ceiling
at the door
on the door
at the top of the page
in a box
on the cover
at the end of the road
in my pocket
on the floor
at the entrance
in my wallet
on the carpet
at the crossroads
in a building
on the menu
at the front desk
in a car
on a page
Look at these examples:
- Jane is waiting for you at the bus stop.
- The shop is at the end of the street.
- My plane stopped at Dubai and Hanoi and arrived in Bangkok two hours late.
- When will you arrive at the office?
- Do you work in an office?
- I have a meeting in New York.
- Do you live in Japan?
- Jupiter is in the Solar System.
- The author's name is on the cover of the book.
- There are no prices on this menu.
- You are standing on my foot.
- There was a "no smoking" sign on the wall.
- I live on the 7th floor at 21 Oxford Street in London.
Notice the use of the prepositions of place at, in and on in these standard expressions:
in a car
on a bus
in a taxi
on a train
in a helicopter
on a plane
in a boat
on a ship
in a lift (elevator)
on a bicycle, on a motorbike
at the top
in the newspaper
on a horse, on an elephant
at the bottom
in the sky
on the radio, on television
at the side
in a row
on the left, on the right
in Oxford Street
on the way
Prepositions of Time: at, in, on
- at for a PRECISE TIME
- in for MONTHS, YEARS, CENTURIES and LONG PERIODS
- on for DAYS and DATES
MONTHS, YEARS, CENTURIES and LONG PERIODS
DAYS and DATES
at 3 o'clock
in the summer
on 6 March
on 25 Dec. 2010
in the 1990s
on Christmas Day
in the next century
on Independence Day
in the Ice Age
on my birthday
at the moment
in the past/future
on New Year's Eve
Look at these examples:
- I have a meeting at 9am.
- The shop closes at midnight.
- Jane went home at lunchtime.
- In England, it often snows in December.
- Do you think we will go to Jupiter in the future?
- There should be a lot of progress in the next century.
- Do you work on Mondays?
- Her birthday is on 20 November.
- Where will you be on New Year's Day?
Notice the use of the preposition of time at in the following standard expressions:
The stars shine at night.
at the weekend
I don't usually work at the weekend.
I stay with my family at Christmas.
at the same time
We finished the test at the same time.
He's not home at present. Try later.
Notice the use of the prepositions of time in and on in these common expressions:
in the morning
on Tuesday morning
in the mornings
on Saturday mornings
in the afternoon(s)
on Sunday afternoons
in the evening(s)
on Monday evening
When we say last, next, every, this we do not also use at, in, on.
- I went to London last June. (not in last June)
- He's coming back next Tuesday. (not on next Tuesday)
- I go home every Easter. (not at every Easter)
- We'll call you this evening. (not in this evening)
Prepositions with Nouns, Adjectives, and Verbs.
Prepositions are sometimes so firmly wedded to other words that they have practically become one word. (In fact, in other languages, such as German, they would have become one word.) This occurs in three categories: nouns, adjectives, and verbs.
NOUNS and PREPOSITIONS
ADJECTIVES and PREPOSITIONS
VERBS and PREPOSITIONS
A combination of verb and preposition is called a phrasal verb. The word that is joined to the verb is then called a particle. Please refer to the brief section we have prepared on phrasal verbs for an explanation.
Idiomatic Expressions with Prepositions
- agree to a proposal, with a person, on a price, in principle
- argue about a matter, with a person, for or against a proposition
- compare to to show likenesses, with to show differences (sometimes similarities)
- correspond to a thing, with a person
- differ from an unlike thing, with a person
- live at an address, in a house or city, on a street, with other people
In everyday speech, we fall into some bad habits, using prepositions where they are not necessary. It would be a good idea to eliminate these words altogether, but we must be especially careful not to use them in formal, academic prose.
- She met
up withthe new coach in the hallway.
- The book fell off
- He threw the book out
- She wouldn't let the cat inside
ofthe house. [or use "in"]
- Where did they go
- Put the lamp in back of the couch. [use "behind" instead]
- Where is your college
Prepositional phrases modify nouns and verbs while indicating various relationships between subjects and verbs. They are used to color and inform sentences in powerful ways.
What are the Parts of a Prepositional Phrase?
In simplest terms, prepositional phrases consist of a preposition and an object of a preposition. Prepositions are indeclinable words that introduce the object of a prepositional phrase. Indeclinable words are words that have only one possible form. For example, below is a preposition, but belows or belowing are not possible forms of below.
The noun phrase or pronoun that follows the preposition is called the object of the preposition. For example, behind the couch is a prepositional phrase where behind is the preposition and the noun phrase the couch acts as the object of the preposition. Sometimes adjectives are used to further modify the object of the preposition, as in behind the big old smelly green couch.
Formal Functions of Prepositions
Prepositions perform three formal functions in sentences. They can act as an adjective modifying a noun, as an adverb modifying a verb, or as a nominal when used in conjunction with the verb form to be.
Prepositions Functioning as Adjectives
In the following sentences, prepositional phrases perform the function of modifying the nouns boat, pen, and car:
Look at the boat with the blue sail. Please hand me the pen next to the telephone. Park the car beside the fence.
Prepositions Functioning as Adverbs
In these examples, notice how the prepositional phrases perform adverbial functions by modifying the verbs after, stalled, and won:
The coyote runs after the rabbit. The car stalled despite the tune-up. The team won without the starting quarterback.
Prepositions Functioning as Nominals
In English, sometimes words function as nouns but aren't themselves nouns. These words are called nominals. Prepositions sometimes perform this important function in sentences when they are used in conjunction with the verb to be. For example:
The park is next to the hospital. The student is between an A and a B. The fight scene is before the second act.
Semantic Properties of Prepositions
In semantic terms, the preposition functions to illustrate a logical, temporal, or spatial relationship between the object of the prepositional phrase and the other components of the sentence. Consider the following examples:
The dog is asleep on his bed.
In this example, the prepositional phrase on his bed indicates a spatial relationship between the subject dog and the object bed. If the preposition on was replaced with under or beneath the spatial relationship would be altered.
The town hasn't been the same since the war.
In this sentence, the prepositional phrase since the war indicates a temporal relationship between the verb phrase hasn't been the same and the object war.
The family survived despite the accident.
he prepositional phrase despite the accident in this sentence indicates a logical relationship between the survival of the family and the accident.
01. Jim is at the office.
02. His wife is at home.
03. He is sitting at his desk.
04. She is working at the kitchen table.
05. He has papers on his desk.
06. She has a cookery book open on the table.
07. Jim goes to the office at eight.
08. His wife stays at home until ten: then she goes to the supermarket.
09. At the supermarket, she buys groceries.
10. She walks from her house to the supermarket.
11. She walks to the end of her street to a busy road.
12. The courses is just round/on the corner.
13. She buys groceries at the courses and vegetables at an open market.
14. Jim works on the top floor of an office block.
15. He takes a lift (elevator) up and down.
16. The only exciting thing that ever happened to Jim was that once the lift stopped between the eighth and ninth floors and Jim was stuck in it.
17. He sat on the floor until help came.
18. When she has a lot to buy, Mary takes the car and parks in the car park, close to the store.
19. In/inside/at the supermarket, she walks along/down the aisles , pushing her trolley between the rows of shelves.
20. She pays at the checkout, loads the groceries into the boot (trunk) of her car, and drives (no preposition!) home.
01. The movie starts at 2.30.
02. The restaurant opens in the evening only.
03. Her birthday is on Thursday.
04. The restaurant closes at midnight.
05. We usually have lunch at one.
06. He leaves for New York on Friday.
07. The plane takes off at 14.50.
08. He returns on March 24.
09. We usually go on holiday in the summer.
10. He went to Florida in February. (for is possible, meaning that you stayed in Florida for the whole of the month)
11. We are leaving in three days. (for could be used, meaning that you will be away for a period of time, in this case, three days)
12. He goes to work early in the morning.
13. They eat dinner in the evening.
14. The train always leaves on time. (that is, exactly according to the timetable)
15. Will we be in time to catch it?
16. Too late! We weren't in time. (that is, we didn't get there before the set time; we weren't on time means, we weren't punctual)
17. Don't be late! Be in time for the start of the race. (that is, get there some time before it starts; more precisely, be on time, at the time the race starts. The race started on time = the race started when it was scheduled to do so.)
18. What were you doing in 1989?
19. We stay up late on New Year's Eve.
20. We are off to the seaside for the day.
01. I live............... 27 South Street.
A. in B. at C. to D. inside
02. She lives................. Dublin.
A. in B. at C. to D. for
03. I am going....................
A. to the work B. in work C. to work D. work
04. I sleep.................. night.
A. in B. at C. to D. at the
05. Snow falls.................. December.
A. in B. to C. at D. over
06. The bridge goes................. the river.
A. over B. by C. at D. with
07. I will see you.................. Tuesday.
A. at B. in C. on D. with
08. She swam.................. the river.
A. across B. beyond C. into D. through
09. Many books and papers were lying.................... the room. A. through B. over C. about D. along
10. The plane flew................... the clouds.
A. on top of B. over C. above D. on
11. It is.................. time to start.
A. near B. ready C. nearby D. almost
12. They went to the hotel......................
A. walking B. by foot C. on foot D. with foot
13. It's a bargain. It's................... £5.
A. only B. but C. solely D. even
14. The people in the room................... are very noisy.,
A. down B. lower C. under D. below
15. The train is................... at 5.10.
A. to arrive B. on time C. due D. believed
16. Don't disturb him. He is fast..................
A. sleeping B. sleep C. sleepy D. asleep
17. The water is.................... Be careful!
A. full B. high C. deep D. up
18. He................... 32 on his next birthday.
A. gets B. become C. is D. will
19. I.................. a well-done steak.
A. will B. become C. shall D. want
20. I have only a £20 note. I need some................
A. small money B. coinage C. change D. coins
21. You don't shower with your.................... on, do you?
A. cloths B. clothes C. clothings D. cloth
22. I have lived in Edinburgh.................. my life.
A. for B. since C. total D. all
23. It is heavy. Hold it with................ hands.
A. each B. both C. all D. every
24. She is the lady................. told me.
A. what B. who C. as D. this
25. Read a book............... you are waiting.
A. to B. while C. that D. so
01. He talked to me about the problem.
02. The room measured three metres by five.
03. Throughout the holidays it rained day after day.
04. He lied to the police when he was arrested for drunken driving.
05. Port comes from Portugal.
06. The movie was boring from beginning to end.
07. In the floods there were ten thousand square kilometres under water.
08. The goods do not have to be paid for in advance but can be sent cash on delivery.
09. The train is not on time so we will be late.
10. I prefer to pay by cheque rather than cash.
1. He didn't tell the truth. He lied about it.
2. The patient was very ill indeed. The doctors were working against time.
3. The sun disappeared behind the clouds.
4. The boxer lost the fight because he hit his opponent below the belt.
5. I will arrive sometime between three and four in the afternoon.
6. He was so ill, he was beyond the help of the doctors.
7. The weather didn't improve. It went from bad to worse.
8. I couldn't buy the book because the shop didn't have it in stock.
9. I felt pleased I no longer had the responsibility. It was a weight off my shoulders.
10. This is the better product. It has many advantages over its competitors.
11. The floods were serious. There were ten thousand square kilometres under water.
12. The bank wants to be sure you can pay back the money. It lends money only against good security.
1. I don't know exactly how far it is. I think it's 23 kilometres to the nearest round number.
2. Because of the huge traffic jam on the main road, traffic was at a standstill.
3. The criminal appeared before the court. (note: in court = in the courtroom; in the court = not used)
4. The soldier saw his girlfriend when he was off duty.
5. We can stroll over because it is within easy walking distance.
6. At high tide, the ship got under way.
7. He got the sack because he was not quite up to the job.
8. It stands to reason that success requires hard work.
9. The estate agent showed the potential purchaser around the building.
10. He makes a terrible noise when he sings off key.
11. The goods were sold cheaply because they were on sale.
12. When you speak to the old lady, you will have to shout because she is hard of hearing.
1. Hurry up! The train is about to leave.
2. The gambler did not pick his horses carefully or thoughtfully. He selected them at random.
3. We shall see each other again before long.
4. Much of Holland is below sea level.
5. He stayed loyal to his friends through thick and thin.
6. The golfer got into all sorts of difficulties trying to escape from the bunker.
7. I play tennis when I am off work.
8. If you smoke, you are in danger of getting ill.
9. It is a pity that holidays cannot last for ever.
10. The room measured five metres by six.
11. Drinks are cheaper on board ship.
12. Let's shelter from the rain under/beneath that tree.
01. She has got over her illness, and is up and about again.
02. The cars were moving round the track at high speed.
03. I saw it all. It happened before my very eyes.
04. The noisy children burst into the room.
05. He is too young. He is below age for admission to that nightclub.
06. They gave their customer a guided tour of their workshops.
07. She was able to make him do whatever she wanted. She could twist him round her little finger.
08. I have the job in hand and should complete it by late afternoon.
09. The whole idea of a holiday is to get away from it all.
10. The handle stuck, and then it broke when he tried to move it by force.
11. The car was a write-off but the driver escaped without injury.
12. In the operating theatre, the patient is put under anaesthetic.
01. Unemployed teenagers hang about/around the city streets.
02. He sold his shares at a profit.
03. I was very early. I arrived an hour before time.
04. The newspapers were not supposed to print what the President said because he was speaking off the record.
05. The book is unobtainable because it is out of print.
06. With competition intense, you cannot sell goods that are below standard.
07. They were gossiping about him behind his back.
08. We have a dog and a cat besides the canary.
09. I prefer to travel by train.
10. After my holiday, I felt fresh and ready for work.
11. The drunken man swayed from side to side.
12. There was no compulsion. I did it of my own free will.
01. In summer at dawn the birds break into song.
02. Modern life is so complicated I wouldn't mind being cast away on a desert island.
03. The bankrupt company had got so far behind with its debt payments that there was no hope of its meeting its commitments.
04. He told his secretary to hold the reports in readiness in case the committee needed to inspect them.
05. The managing director put the case for expansion in south-east Asia to the company's shareholders.
06. The inhabitants of a small community are more likely to take pride in its appearance than those who live in a large city.
07. Salesmanship comes naturally to the New Yorker: it runs in his blood.
08. The manager demanded a rise in salary commensurate with his new responsibilities.
09. Summer heat is not conducive to hard mental work.
10. If you bear with me a moment longer you will understand what I mean.
01. The lookout saw that the Titanic was bearing down on the iceberg. Collision threatened.
02. Who can be indifferent to the glory that was Rome?
03. As far as his opponents are concerned, a dictator is likely to take the law into his own hands.
04. The shortage took us by surprise and we had no time to arrange alternative supplies.
05. The government can find no painless way to hold inflation in check.
06. While the sales director was on holiday, the sales office got into a real mess.
07. I had to resign. I couldn't get on with the boss.
08. The injured man was done for. He was going to die.
09. In the warm spring sunshine, the plants came on quickly. (= grew, developed).
10. The publisher threw a big party when the author's new book came out.
01. I can't stand the sound of bagpipes. It sets my teeth on edge.
02. Although after the accident the car was a complete write-off, he escaped without a scratch.
03. I put my money in the bank for safe-keeping.
04. The office supervisor in charge of a number of people had twenty people beneath her.
05. At the seaside, the children were so beside themselves with excitement, they could hardly control themselves.
06. The train is behind time and will make me late for my appointment.
07. The country with have a million men under arms is prepared for war.
08. The men in white coats said he was off his head and took him away.
09. The sympathetic employer knew every one of his employees by name.
10. It is worthwhile keeping those old bits of string because they could be of use later.
01. Traffic was backed up for six kilometres as a result of the jam on the main road.
02. The footballers were down at heart after losing such an important match.
03. He always acts on the level and you can believe he Is serious when he says he is going to resign.
04. With inflation costs will rise without doubt.
05. The nurse will be within call if you need her.
06. If he reported your private conversation to the boss, he was definitely in the wrong.
07. He is very punctual and always arrives early as a matter of course.
08. Why are those noisy children shouting at the tops of their voices?
09. He went to the boss and repeated everything I said word for word.
10. She refused to let them into the secret.