Prepositions! What is a preposition? learn preposition definition and useful preposition examples in English. When you are studying English grammar, you have likely come across the idea of the preposition, but what is this and how does it function within a sentence? In this article, we are going to be looking in a little more depth at what a preposition is, how they are used and the rules surrounding them. We are also going to be looking at some examples in order to gain a greater understanding of their function.
What is a Preposition?
In the most simple terms, a preposition is a word which can link verbs, nouns and pronouns together. In many cases it might suggest location or any other type of relationship which occurs between the various words within a sentence.
Many words can be classed as a preposition but that does not mean that they are one all the time. For example, let’s take the word ‘after’ as an example. On it’s own it is not a preposition, take a look at the following sentence.
- He didn’t meet her until after.
In this case, the word after serves as an adverb, however by changing its location in the sentence and linking it to a noun, it then becomes a preposition. Take a look at this sentence:
- We will meet after lunch.
The word after now has a relationship to the noun lunch, which turns it into a preposition.
Generally, what is a preposition? In the English language, prepositions are words which connect nouns, pronouns and phrases to other words in a sentence.
Preposition examples: After, along, above, except, from, near, of, before, since, between, upon, with, to, after, toward, in, on, at, about, apropos, according to,…
- In the morning
- In (the) summer
- In a moment
- On Thursday
- On the first day
- On time
- At 12 o’clock
- At present
- In Manhattan
- In a building
- On a wall
- At the corner
- Below the surface
- In front of the city hall
- During the conference
- Before dawn
- Within seven days
- Into her eyes
- Across the road
- Along the beach
- Down the hill
Types of Prepositions
There are five types of prepositions in English grammar.
- Prepositions of time (ago, before, since…)
- Prepositions of place (under, behind, between…)
- Prepositions of movement/ Direction (up, down, over…)
- Prepositions for agent, instruments, devices, machines…(by, with, on…)
- Prepositional phrases (in time, on time, in love...)
Preposition examples | Image
Rules Of The Preposition
As with all areas of grammar, there are rules when it comes to the use of the preposition. Let’s dive a little deeper here and take a look at the rules in order to enable us to use the preposition correctly.
Rule #1: As a rule of thumb, the preposition should go before the pronoun or noun to which is has a relationship. However, this is not always the case and there are some exceptions to this rule. Many people are of the belief that a preposition does not belong at the end of a sentence, but by taking a look at the following example, we can see that this is not true.
- This is something I do not agree with.
As you can see, the preposition ‘with’ has ended the sentence, however, this should only be done if the preposition provides relevant information to the sentence. If you were to add the phrase ‘with which’ into the middle of this sentence, the final preposition would not be necessary, let’s take a look at this:
- This is something with which I do not agree (with)
We are now going to look at some further examples of times when a preposition might come at the end of a sentence.
- Where did the man come from?
- How many of these people can he depend on?
- Who are you going on holiday with?
Rule #2: When using the preposition ‘like’ which means similar, you should follow it with an object of preposition, this is either a noun phrase, noun or pronoun and not with a subject and verb. In order to help you to remember this, you should always avoid the use of like when a using a verb. Let’s take a look at some examples of this.
- She looks like her father
- She looks like her father does.
The first sentence is correct as the preposition ‘like’ is referring to the noun ‘father.’ However, the following sentence does not make sense since the preposition ‘like’ now leads us to believe that she looks (with her eyes) in the same manner that her father looks with his eyes.
When making a comparison using a subject and verb, you should use the word ‘as’ rather than ‘like’ because this will make much more sense. For example:
- He looks like he’s laughing.
- He looks as though he’s laughing.
The second sentence in the above example is correct. It is important to remember to only use like when you are saying that something is similar. If the word like cannot be reasonably replaced with similar, then ‘as’ should be used in its place. To make this clearer, let’s look at an example.
- Do like the teacher asks.
- Do as the teacher asks.
The first sentence could also be worded as ‘do similarly as the teacher asks’ and this would not make sense, therefore the second sentence is grammatically correct.
The best way of choosing between like and as is to remember that like should be used when there is no verb, and as should be used when there is a verb.
Rule #3: When using the verb ‘to have’ you should never replace it with the preposition ‘of.’ This is not grammatically correct. Look at the following examples:
- He should not have done that.
- He should not of done that.
The first sentence is correct, although many English speakers may incorrectly us the preposition of, this is not how it should be done.
Rule #4: If you are going to use the word ‘different’ then it is usual to follow it with the preposition ‘from.’ In some cases, you will notice that the term ‘different than’ may be used and whilst this is not entirely grammatically incorrect, it polarises the statement rather than making it unchallengeable.
- He is different than she is.
- He is different from her.
Rule #5: If you wish to refer to a motion towards something then you should use the preposition ‘into’ instead of ‘in.’ Let’s take a look at some examples of this.
- She walked into the room.
- She walked in the room.
The above example shows that into makes more sense and is grammatically correct rather than the use of the word in. Let’s see another example of this.
- They dived into the sea.
- They dived in the sea.
If you are talking about something already being in something and not going towards it, then you would use the word ‘in’ and not ‘into.’ Take a look at the following two sentences and see which one sounds correct.
- She swam in the ocean.
- She swam into the ocean.
Preposition List with Examples
Learn a useful list of prepositions classified by different categories with example sentences.
A prepositional phrase is a group of words that begins with a preposition.
- Under construction
A new railroad is under construction.
- For real
After two trial runs we did it for real.
- At the same time
All speak at the same time.
- By the time
By the time I got there he’d gone.
- By the way
By the way, how is John?
- On paper
Could you put your ideas down on paper?
- With regret
Do not waste time with regret.
- At a discount
Employees can buy books at a discount.
- Without a hitch
Everything had gone without a hitch.
- Under treatment
He is under treatment for malaria.
- By force
He took the purse from her by force.
- On board
He tried to jump back on board.
- At risk
He was putting himself at risk.
- By nature
He was by nature a philosophical person.
- In vain
Her efforts were in vain.
- On trial
He’s on trial for his life.
- In debt
I am in debt to the bank for my car loan.
- With regard to
I am writing with regard to your recent order.
- With respect
I ask for her hand with all respect.
- For life
I believe marriage is for life.
- Out of place
I felt out of place among foreigners.
- For ages
I haven’t seen you for ages.
- By mistake
I’ve paid this bill twice by mistake.
- Out of stock
I’m afraid we’re temporarily out of stock.
- Within limits
I’m willing to help, within limits.
- Under repair
Is the bridge still under repair?
- Without precedent
It is without precedent in history.
- In theory
It sounds fine in theory, but will it work?
- At least
It will cost at least $200.
- To the full
I’ve always believed in living life to the full.
- Out of school
Never tell tales out of school.
- By now
Perhaps they are already there by now.
- For a while
Please sit down for a while.
Prepositional Phrase examples | Image
Prepositional Phrase examples | Image
- With abandon
She danced with abandon.
- In detail
She described the accident in detail.
- For sale
She has put her house up for sale.
- By far
She is the best by far.
- At the age of
She went blind at the age of ten.
- On leave
She’s on leave until the end of the month.
- In case
Took an umbrella, just in case.
- In full
The apple trees are in full bearing.
- On the move
The army is on the move.
- In terms of
The book is well organized in terms of plot.
- Out of order
The boy put the telephone out of order.
- To date
The car is a beauty and quite up to date.
- On fire
The car was now on fire.
- Out of control
The fire is burning out of control.
- Under review
The matter is still under review.
- On sale
The new model goes on sale next month.
- On show
The paintings are on show until April.
- Within walking
The shops are within walking distance.
- Under stress
The silver was deformed under stress.
- At peace
The two countries were at peace.
- Out of fashion
Their music will never go out of fashion.
- Under the stairs
There’s a broom cupboard under the stairs.
- For hire
They have boats for hire.
- Out of hand
Unemployment is getting out of hand.
- Within reach
We live within reach of the station.
- For nothing
We went all that way for nothing.
- With a view of
We’d like a room with a view of the sea.
- In doubt
When in doubt, call the doctor.
- Without respect
Without respect, love cannot go far.
- At once
You have to call her at once.
List of Prepositional Phrases | Image
Prepositions of Time
A preposition of time is a preposition that allows you to discuss a specific time period.
List of Prepositions of Time with preposition examples.
We stayed at a student hostel during the conference.
I’m just going to bed for two hours or so.
We wait till/until half past six for you.
Forty years have passed away since they met.
Her visit will extend from Monday to Thursday.
He left the house over an hour ago.
She’s always up before dawn.
He had promised to be back by five o’clock.
I felt fairly easy after taking the medicine.
It’s only two weeks to Christmas.
It’s five past ten.
They lived in New York between 1998 and 2004.
You should receive a reply within seven days.
In the afternoon
On 1st January 2013
At the same time
List of Prepositions of Time with Examples | Image
Prepositions of Place
A preposition of place is a preposition which is used to refer to a place where something or someone is located.
List of Prepositions of Place with preposition examples.
On a table
We slept under the open sky.
- Next to
The hotel is situated next to the lively bustling port.
There is a gulf between the two cities.
I enjoy being among my friends.
- In front of
They massed in front of the city hall.
The horse fell behind in the race.
The bank is by the hotel.
Our friends in the apartment above us are really noisy.
He dived below the surface of the water.
There is a bush near the school playground.
At The Empire State Building
List of Prepositions of Place with Examples | Image
Prepositions of Movement
Prepositions of movement or direction are used to show movement from one place to another. These prepositions are most often used with verbs of motion and are found after the verb.
List of Prepositions of Movement with preposition examples.
It’s easier to run down the hill than go up.
She doesn’t like riding her bike up these hills.
Don’t put new wine into old bottles.
She was carrying a suitcase and walking towards.
The hotel is over the bridge.
I slipped as I stepped onto the platform.
Her hair whipped around her face in the wind.
We went for a walk along the beach at twilight.
The boys swam across the lake.
The Charles River flows through Boston.
Many people travel to work by car.
What time does the flight from Amsterdam arrive?
- Out of
If you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen
List of Prepositions of Movement with Examples | Image
Adjective & Preposition Examples
Example sentences of prepositions with adjectives in English.
- I don’t feel comfortable in high heels.
- He’s very experienced in looking after animals.
- He is interested in molecular biology.
- They were successful in winning the contract.
- Some among us were talented in hunting.
- I was amazed by what she told me.
- We were all impressed by her enthusiasm.
- The book was inspired by a real person.
- The teacher was surprised by the student’s question.
- Are you acquainted with your classmate?
- You are blessed with many talents.
- The kids are busy with their homework.
- Her job is something concerned with computers.
- Are you familiar with the computer software they use?
- He’s fed up with his job. He wants to quit.
- Are you happy with that arrangement?
- Be careful with the glasses.
- She’s never satisfied with what she’s got.
- He’s been accused of robbery.
- Are you afraid of the dark?
- I’m not ashamed of what I did.
- Were you aware of the risks at the time?
- What are you frightened of?
- You are in danger of being robbed.
- She’s jealous of my success.
- He was proud of himself for not giving up.
- I’m sick of the way you’ve treated me.
- It was unkind of you to take his toy away.
- I’d be absolutely delighted to come.
- I feel very proud to be a part of the team.
- It’s good to see you again.
- It’s nice to know you.
- She had grown accustomed to his long absences.
- I’ve never seen two people so attached to each other.
- He was disappointed to see she wasn’t at the party.
- John was very keen to help.
- She’s married to John.
- I’m not qualified to give advice on such matters.
- I was sad to hear that they’d split up.
- I was thankful to see they’d all arrived safely.
- She is eager for her parents’ approval.
- You’ll be late for your flight if you don’t hurry up.
- What makes you think that you are qualified for this job?
- It is difficult for me to hear you.
- She is so grateful for your help.
- The army are said to be ready for action.
- This programme is not suitable for children.
- I’m sorry for arriving so late to dinner.
- She’s famous for her watercolor paintings.
- He’s angry at his friend for cheating on the test.
- I’m awful at names.
- Jack is really bad at keeping his promises.
- They are excellent at planning fun parties.
- She is good at solving problems.
- The teacher was surprised at the student’s question.
- Dustin is terrible at texting.
- He could be very careless about his future.
- He was quite certain about his attacker’s identity.
- I’m a bit concerned about your health.
- I’m not crazy about Chinese food.
- She felt very depressed about the future.
- The boss was furious about the past quarter’s losses.
- He’s very sensitive about his weight.
- Is she serious about wanting to sell the house?
- I’m very sorry about losing your book.
- Are you sure about that?
- He’s not worried about his upcoming examinations.
Adjective & Preposition Examples | Image
Noun & Preposition Examples
Examples of prepositions with nouns in English.
- There is a steep fall in profits this year.
- She has lost her belief in God.
- We apologize for the delay in answering your letter.
- We measured the difference in temperature.
- I had no difficulty in making myself understood.
- The novel is based on his experiences in the war.
- Do your parents take an interest in your friends?
- There is the rapid growth in violent crime.
- The club encourages participation in sporting activities.
- There was no change in the patient’s condition overnight.
- I’d like to do a course in computer programming.
- I need some lessons in how to set up a website.
- He had a lot of success in his career.
- He took a photograph of the mountains.
- He has the advantage of speaking English fluently.
- We went to see an exhibition of Viking jewellery.
- His fear of flying made travel difficult.
- He was the first to see the possibilities of the plan.
- She is the cause of all his problems.
- It is a perfect example of a medieval castle.
- I’m not happy with this way of working.
- Mark gave me a check for $100.
- There is no known cure for this type of snake bite.
- I have a fondness for expensive chocolate.
- There is a real need for discipline in this class.
- Is there enough room for us in the car?
- I have no particular reason for doubting him.
- At least give her credit for trying.
- She felt a surge of love and desire for him.
- I couldn’t hide my love for her any longer.
- He felt nothing but hatred for his attacker.
- His plans are a recipe for disaster.
- I have a deep respect for my grandmother.
- I’m aware of John’s reputation for being late.
- I did an Internet search for free music sites.
- His talent for singing was impressive.
- I had an argument with the waiter about the bill.
- She has no concern with my question.
- Dave has close connection with my family.
- Have you had any contact with Anna?
- I’ve got a dinner date with Tommy on Saturday.
- I’m having difficulty with the steering.
- I’ve got a meeting with Mr Thomas this afternoon.
- Tony left after a quarrel with his wife.
- My relationship with John is wonderful.
- We have every sympathy with his family.
- Students must have access to good resources.
- Mark is now fighting his addiction to alcohol.
- I have an open invitation to visit my friend in Korea.
- I really admire Sarah for her dedication to her family.
- I have no desire to discuss the matter further.
- His reaction to his behavior was quite funny.
- The book is full of references to growing up in India.
- You have no reason to change the schedule like that.
- There is no solution to this problem.
- It’s my first visit to Tokyo.
- The flood caused damage to property estimated at $6 million.
- There has been a lot of resistance to this new law.
- I’d like to make a small contribution to the cost of the holiday.
Noun & Preposition Examples | Image
Verb & Preposition Examples
Examples of prepositions with verbs in English.
- He asked about her family.
- The boys argued about which bus to take.
- He always cares about me.
- Anna decided about her goals.
- Sarah dreams about becoming a ballet dancer.
- Don’t forget about the party you promised.
- You will laugh about this later on.
- What did you think about the idea?
- Don’t worry about me. I’ll be all right.
- We always agree on the best course of action.
- I don’t feel I can comment on their decision.
- I congratulate you on your new job!
- You can count on me anytime.
- We depend on our customers’ suggestions.
- Can you elaborate on the process?
- I insist on Peter’s studying every day for two hours.
- Advertisements often play on people’s fears.
- Can we rely on this old car to get us there?
- She is working on a new novel.
- He admitted to being late three times.
- I answer to Ms Smith.
- She had to apologize to the whole family.
- Let me appeal to you for your help in this matter.
- She asked to see Professor Fenton.
- Chris attended to the grocery shopping.
- She committed herself to finding a new job.
- I’m going to complain to the manager about this.
- The boy confessed to stealing the apple.
- Please contribute to the fund for the needy.
- Can you explain Andrew to me?
- Something awful happened to your car.
- Allow me to introduce myself to you.
- Have you been invited to their party?
- I prefer roast potatoes to French fries.
- He reacted poorly to the news.
- I travel to work by train.
- That accounts for his success.
- I really admire you for your courage.
- I want to apologize for my mistakes.
- He doesn’t care for playing golf.
- I can’t excuse myself for not doing it.
- He works for an engineering company.
- He always agrees with my opinion.
- Susan associates chocolate with childhood.
- The officer charged Mr. Smith with blackmail.
- He complies with each and every order.
- I’m afraid I confused you with someone else.
- I can’t deal with so much overtime.
- Can I borrow a hammer from you?
- You can choose from a wide range of vehicles.
- The swimmer emerged from the lake.
- Don’t expect sympathy from me!
- The cover protects the machine from dust.
- He will suffer from studying too little.
- The entire group arrived in force.
- She seemed totally absorbed in her book.
- John believes in oat bran.
- Please don’t involve me in this mess.
- John succeeded in getting a new job.
- I specialize in tropical medicine.
Verb & Preposition Examples | Image
Prepositions of Time and Place (IN, ON, AT)
For describing time and place, the prepositions in, on, and at go from general to specific.
Prepositions of Time IN, ON, AT
Learn how to use prepositions of time in, on, at correctly with following useful rules and preposition examples.
- In + Years
- In + Seasons
- In + Decades
- In + Centuries
- In + Weeks
- In + Periods of time
- In + Holidays
- On + Days
- On + Dates
- On + Holidays with “day”
- On + Specific days
- On + Time
- On + Day + Part of day
- At + Hours
- At + Parts of the day
- At + Holidays without “day”
- At + Time
“Time” Prepositions Examples IN – AT – ON | Image
Prepositions of Place IN, ON, AT
Learn useful rules to use Prepositions of Place IN – ON – AT with preposition examples.
- In + Countries
- In + Cities
- In + Neighborhood
- In + Enclosed Space
- On + Means of transport
- On + Communications
- On + Surfaces
- At + Exact Addresses or Intersections
- At + Specific Locations/ Points
“Place” Preposition Examples AT – IN – ON | Image
Common Errors with Prepositions
Learn common errors in the use of prepositions in English with preposition examples.
Incorrect: Sophia invests her money on the stock market.
Correct: Sophia invests her money in the stock market.
Incorrect: He is a student of Oxford University.
Correct: He is a student at Oxford University.
Incorrect: I saw that news on the newspapers.
Correct: I saw that news in the newspapers.
Incorrect: Open page 45 of your books.
Correct: Open your books to page 45.
Incorrect: The cat is sleeping in the sofa.
Correct: The cat is sleeping on the sofa.
Incorrect: My birthday is on October.
Correct: My birthday is in October.
Incorrect: John has been absent from Friday?
Correct: John has been absent since Friday ?
Incorrect: Sophia’s married with a doctor.
Correct: Sophia’s married to a doctor.
Incorrect: Divide it between the children in class.
Correct: Divide it among the children in class.
Incorrect: It has been snowing from Monday.
Correct: It has been snowing since Monday.
Incorrect: The key of happiness is having dreams.
Correct: The key to happiness is having dreams.
Incorrect: What do you see when looking the mirror?
Correct: What do you see when looking in the mirror?
Incorrect: She met with old friends on her holiday.
Correct: She met old friends on her holiday.
Incorrect: He insisted to carry his own bag.
Correct: He insisted on carrying his own bag.
Incorrect: Lunch consisted from sandwiches and fruit.
Correct: Lunch consisted of sandwiches and fruit.
Incorrect: It depends from you.
Correct: It depends on you.
Common Preposition Errors | Image
We have seen that a preposition can be used to show a link or relationship to a verb, noun or pronoun. There are various rules surrounding the use of a preposition but these are easy to follow and will help make your sentences much more coherent.