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 short words that show direction, time, place, location, spatial relationship with people, places, or things.

Prepositions sit before (are pre-positioned) their objects.

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.

What Can We Do?

You can learn them by looking them up in a dictionary, reading a lot in English, and learning useful phrases with prepositions.

Types of Prepositions Based on Structure

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

simple prepositions are made of only one word, but compound prepositions are made of two or more words. And complex prepositions are when two or more prepositions follow each other.

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)

Types of Prepositions Based on Meaning

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

Prepositions of Direction

If we want to refer to the direction of something, we use the prepositions 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 one point in time, we use the prepositions such as 'in,' 'at,' and 'on.' We use prepositions 'since,' 'for,' 'by,' 'during,' ',' when we want to refer to a period of time.

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.

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 are by, with, like, as, 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, regarding are examples of these participle prepositions. Here are a few examples:

Following his rule, I closed the door slightly.

Considering her illness, she was still beautiful.

Preposition or Adverb?

Some terms can be either an adverb or a preposition. We mean we can have the same word with two different word classes.

Sally closed the door behind her. (preposition)

The car behind was hooting impatiently. (adverb)

Common Error

Sometimes English learners use 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?')

Prepositional Phrase

A group of words containing a preposition, a noun, or pronoun object of the preposition is considered a prepositional phrase. As you know, a phrase does not consist of a verb or a subject, as a result, it is used to complete the meaning of the sentence.

Young people were swimming into the deep water.

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

Preposition Position

You cannot decide which preposition goes with the noun, so, it is better to memorize prepositional phrases. Strict grammarians believe it is wrong to use prepositions at the end of the sentence, but nowadays it is considered OK and you can use prepositions at the end of a sentence.

What are you looking at?

Where did you put them on?

How Do We Use Prepositions?

Sometimes we are not allowed to use prepositions before or after some word classes. so, check out the table to have information in detail:

verb + preposition preposition + verb (gerund)
adjective + preposition preposition + adjective
preposition + noun noun + preposition
one 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


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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!

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.

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