Prepositions of Direction and Movement

As their names suggest, prepositions of direction and movement show a movement from one place to another or show a particular direction.

Intermediate
"Prepositions of Direction and Movement" in English Grammar

What Are Prepositions of Direction and Movement?

Prepositions of direction and movement are used to talk about the location of things and their movements from one place to another. These prepositions always describe movement and we usually use them with verbs of motion.

Categories of Prepositions of Direction and Movement

According to their meaning, prepositions of direction and movement can be classified into two groups:

  1. Prepositions that show the destination of a movement
  2. Prepositions that show the movement compared to something else

Look at the examples:

The manager walked into the office.

In this example, the noun after the preposition ‘into’ shows the destination which is ‘the office’. This sentence means that the manager arrived at the office.

The manager walked around the office.

In this example, the noun after the preposition 'around' doesn't show the destination. It means that ‘the manager’ was already in the office and he moved throughout the office.

  • Down/Up
  • Into/Out of/Through
  • Onto/Off
  • Over/Under
  • Toward/To/Away from
  • Across/Along/Past
  • Around/Round

Across, Along, Past

'Across' shows the movement from one side to the other side of something.
'Along' or 'alongside' from one point to the other point of something in a line.
As a preposition, 'past' indicates a move to the other side of something.

She walked across the street.

Driving across the desert was quite an adventure.

Joe and Molly walked along the street.

When Tom runs, his pet dog runs alongside him.

The bookstore is just past the pharmacy.

The police car drove right past us.

Around, Round

'Around' (or especially in British English 'round') is a preposition that shows movement in a along a curving line, not straight and not going through it.

The children ran around the living room.

A big pile of clothes was on the floor so she had to walk around it.

Through

'Through' shows a movement into one side and out of the other side of something. Generally, 'through' means entering the middle of something and then going out the other side, but 'across' shows crossing the middle, but not necessarily going in the thing you're crossing.

He got shot and the bullet went through him.

The train went through a tunnel.

Up and Down

using the preposition 'across' to show direction

'Up' shows being in or towards a higher position. It also means along or further along a street or a road.
'Down' is the opposite of 'up'. It indicates a movement from a higher point on something to a lower one. It also means towards the direction in which you are facing.

He pulled his socks up.

The church is just up the street.

We started running down the hill.

Our school is just down the street.

Into

'Into' is a preposition that's related to direction. It shows a direction towards a position in or inside something.
The difference between 'in' and 'into' lies in the existence of movement. 'Into' is used when something or someone is going or being put into another location. 'In' is used to describe where someone or something already is.

Mary walked into the house.

He jumped into the water.

Out of

'Out of' is the opposite of 'into'. When we want to state that something or someone is coming out of a place, we use 'out of'. Let us take a look at the following examples:

I'm out of here.

Jessica is coming out of the building right now.

Tip!

It might come in handy to know that in American English, it is very common to use 'outta' instead of 'out of'. Bear in mind that it is only used in informal, spoken English.

Off

Off as a preposition, shows separation, removal and disconnection. It indicates moving away from something.

He bought an island off the coast of Florida.

Try not to fall off the ladder!

Onto

'Onto' is used to express movement into or on a particular place or position.

At the interjection, turn right onto the 5th Avenue.

We went onto the roof to fix the antenna.

Over

'Over' as a preposition can show a movement from one side of something to the other; It is somewhat synonymous to the preposition 'across'.

Let's walk over that bridge.

I watched a bird flew over the river. It was beautiful.

Under

When we want to talk about something or someone that is in a lower position than something else, we can use 'under'. Take a look at the following examples:

I'm under the table, dad!

The basement is located under the first floor, ma'am.

Toward

'Toward' (which is also called Towards especially in British English) shows a movement in the direction of something.

I was walking toward the door when my phone rang.

The baby was pointing toward the little kitten.

To

'To' indicates a movement in the direction of something; it can be synonymous to the preposition 'toward'.
To and toward show direction or movement. To is used to show movement toward a point, person, place or thing approached and reached. Toward is used to express a motion or direction toward something in the direction of something.

She walked to school.

On my way to the library, I stopped and got some cash from the ATM.

Away from

Normally, when we want to show the movement between two things, people, etc. we can use 'away from'. Study the following examples carefully:

Take this cockroach away from me.

She drove away from her house quickly.

Review

As you know, prepositions of directions and movements are used to talk about how things are placed or how they move from one place to another. We gathered all of them at the table so that we can learn them easily.

1. across 5. around 9. off 12. past
2. through 6. down/ up 10. onto 13. toward
3. along 7. into 10.over 14. to
4. away from 8. out of 11.under

Comments

You might also like

Prepositions

Prepositions can refer to many things. Since there are a lot of prepositions in the English language and they are used a lot, we have to learn them completely.

Prepositions of Time

Prepositions allow us to talk about the relationship between two words in a sentence. Here, we will discuss the different prepositions of time in English.

Prepositions of Place

Prepositions allow us to talk about the relationship between two words in a sentence. Here, we will discuss the different prepositions of place in English.

Prepositions of Manner

Prepositions of Manner which is also called Prepositions of Method express how a certain thing happens or is done. In this part, we will discuss them.

Compound Prepositions

Compound Prepositions or complex prepositions consist of two or more words that function as a single preposition. You'll learn about them here!

Complex Prepositions

Complex prepositions are created by combining two or more simple prepositions like out of and as for. In this lesson, we will discover more about them.

Download LanGeek app for free