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" in the English Grammar

What Are Prepositions?

Prepositions are a type of word that typically show the relationship between nouns or pronouns and other words in a sentence. They often appear before the object and indicate the location of something in space or time, or the direction or manner of an action.

Prepositions Are Tricky!

We say we are at the hospital seeing someone who is in the hospital. We lie in bed but on the couch. We watch a movie at the theater but on television. So, you need to learn the prepositions by looking them up in a dictionary, reading a lot of texts in English, and learning useful phrases with prepositions.

Prepositions: Types Based on Structure

Prepositions are categorized into three main groups based on the number of words they are made of:

Simple prepositions are made of only one word, while compound prepositions are made of two or more words. And complex prepositions are formed when two or more prepositions follow each other. Pay attention to the examples:

The small cat jumped on the chair. (simple)

Please do not talk on behalf of her. Let her choose please. (compound)

She gazed at us from beneath the brim of her hat. (complex)

Prepositions: Types Based on Meaning

There are different types of prepositions in English that are all frequently used. Check out the list:

Prepositions of Direction

If we want to refer to the direction of something, we use a preposition such as 'to', 'in', 'across,' 'on', and 'along'.

I'm walking along the beach.

Across the bridge, there's a village.

Prepositions of Time

If we want to refer to a point in time, we use prepositions such as 'in', 'at', and 'on'. Furthermore, we can use prepositions like 'since,' 'for', 'by', 'during', '', to refer to a period of time. Take a look at the examples:

The bus comes at 15:33 p.m.

I worked there from January to June.

Prepositions of Place

Prepositions of place answer the question 'Where?'. They are used to show the position or location of a thing or person in relation to another thing or person. Prepositions such as 'at', 'in', 'on', 'behind', 'under' and 'above' are some examples of this category. For example:

There's a cat under the car.

Look at the picture on the wall.

using the preposition 'on' to talk about movement

Prepositions of Manner

Prepositions of manner express the way something happens or how a certain thing happened or is done. They may express the method or instrument by which something is done; these prepositions include by, with, like, as, and in. Check out the examples.

By telling the truth, you may survive.

He works as a chef.

Participle Prepositions

Participle prepositions are prepositions that end in '-ed', '-ing', '-en', etc. Excluding, including, following, considering, and regarding are examples of participle prepositions. Here are a few examples in sentences:

Following his rule, I closed the door slightly.

Considering her illness, she was still beautiful.

Preposition or Adverb?

Some words can function as both adverb and prepositions, meaning they can belong to two different parts of speech but have the same form. Compare the examples:

Sally closed the door behind her. (preposition)

The car behind was hooting impatiently. (adverb)

Prepositional Phrase

A group of words that consist of a preposition and a noun or pronoun (object of the preposition) is considered a prepositional phrase. As you know, a phrase does not have a verb or a subject, as a result, it does not form a complete sentence; rather, it is used to complete the meaning of the sentence. Rather than trying to guess which preposition to use with a noun, it can be helpful to memorize common prepositional phrases. Take a look at some examples:

Young people were swimming into the deep water.

This is the only thing at the top of my head.

Common Error

Be careful not to add an unnecessary 'at' at the end of a question as a preposition. That is not grammatically correct.

Where are you going? (Not 'Where are you going at?')

Where is your mother? (Not 'Where is your mother at?')

Preposition: Position in a Sentence

While some strict grammarians believe it is incorrect to end a sentence with a preposition, it is now generally considered acceptable in modern English. For example:

What are you looking at?

Where did you put them on?

We are not allowed to use prepositions before or after certain word classes. Check out the table for more details:

verb + preposition preposition + verb (gerund)
adjective + preposition preposition + adjective
preposition + noun noun + preposition
preposition at the end preposition + preposition


Prepositions are used before prepositional objects to indicate a particular concept such as time, place, etc. Here are the most important categories of prepositions.

  • Prepositions of direction
  • Prepositions of time
  • Prepositions of place
  • Preposition of manner
  • Compound prepositions
  • Participle prepositions


Loading recaptcha

You might also like

Types of Prepositions

Prepositions can indicate different relationships between the elements of the sentence. This lesson will clarify some of their most common functions.

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 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.

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!
Download LanGeek app