What is a Proposition?
In the most simple terms, a preposition is a word that 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 its 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.
The Importance of Prepositions
In the English language, prepositions are words that connect nouns, pronouns, and phrases to other words in a sentence.
A preposition is used before a noun, pronoun, or gerund to show place (prepositions of place), time (prepositions of time), direction (prepositions of movement),… 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 different 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...)
How to Use Prepositions
English can be complicated. Languages in general just have so many different parts of speech and ways to put them together. Luckily, all the rules and types of words can be broken down into manageable sizes. This keeps it from feeling so overwhelming. We’re here to help you navigate English and make it seem much easier to understand! This section is focused specifically on preposition rules.
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.
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?
When using the preposition ‘like’ which means similar, you should follow it with an object of a 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 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.
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 use the preposition of, this is not how it should be done.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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
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
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