Easy Learning

Prepositions - Easy Learning Grammar

A preposition is one of a small but very common group of words that relate different items to each other. Most English prepositions have a number of meanings that are particular to each preposition.Simple prepositions consist of one word, e.g. in, on, under. Complex prepositions consist of more than one word, e.g. due to, together with, on top of, in spite of, out of.Prepositions enable us:
  • to express movement to or from a place.
  • to express location and time.
Prepositions are normally followed by:
  • a noun phrase.
in timeover the edge
under the tabletogether with my friends
  • an -ing clause.
  • Thanks for looking.
  • He picked up some extra cash by working in a bar at night.
  • a relative pronoun (WH- word).
  • He’s married to Rachel, with whom he has one daughter.
In everyday speech a preposition may end a relative clause rather than come before it. See also Relative clauses.
  • That’s the girl we were talking about.
  • That’s the man (who) I gave the money to.
A preposition needs an object, rather like a transitive verb. A preposition and the noun phrase that goes with it is called a prepositional phrase.A prepositional phrase is used as an adverbial.
  • He put the flowers on the table.
  • She shut the dog in the kitchen.
  • He found the papers in time for the meeting.
or a postmodifier.
  • The house on the corner has at last been sold.
  • The flowers on the table are from Tim.
  • A bird with brilliant plumage roamed the lawns.
  • Prepositions combine with some verbs to make new meanings from the combination. These are one type of phrasal verb. See Phrasal verbs.
  • I believe in his innocence.
  • I stand for justice.
  • She went through a bad patch.
The list below shows all the common simple prepositions. Some words can be either prepositions or adverbs, depending on how they are used and what they combine with. The words in italics are the prepositions that can also be used as adverbs.
  •    aboard, about, above, across, after, against, along, alongside, amid, among, around, as, at, atop, bar, before, behind, below, beneath, beside, between, beyond, by, despite, down during, for, from, in, inside, into, like, near, of, off, on, onto, opposite, outside, over, past, pending, per, prior, pro, re, regarding, round, since, than, through, throughout, till, to, towards, under, underneath, until, unto, up, upon, via, with, within, without.
The example below shows adverbial uses.
  • He went in.
  • I took it through.
When a verb is followed by a preposition, there is often little or no choice as to which preposition to use, e.g. rely on, speak to, give to.When there is a choice of preposition, the meaning changes with each:check for, check on, check over; speak to, speak about; talk to, talk with.Prepositions allow us to express relationships. These are mostly to do with place and time. Some prepositions can be used with more than one meaning, depending on how we think about the time or place we are discussing.

Prepositions of location

Prepositions can indicate:
  • the direction in which something is moving in relation to another person or thing: towards, from, to, off.
  • They ran towards the station.
  • He took the road from the town to the nearest village.
  • something or someone being enclosed: within, in, inside, outside.
  • The lake can be seen from most positions within the room.
  • There seems to be something loose inside the control box.
  • You have to stand outside the room while we make up some questions.
  • Did you put the cheese back in the fridge?
  • being at a certain point: on, at, by, near.
  • Don’t stand on the beds.
  • I’ll meet you at the library.
  • There is a huge park near where I live.
  • movement over or onto a place: over, across, on, onto.
  • Graham jumped onto the back of the lorry.
  • He slid the packet across the table.
  • Warms tears flowed over his cheeks.
  • location as a line: along, over, on.
  • We walked along the bank of the river.
  • Please sign on the dotted line.

Prepositions of time

Prepositions can also indicate:
  • a point in time or a date : at, on, in.
  • The baby arrived at 9 p.m. on April 1st.
  • They got married in June.
  • I’ll be with you in five minutes.
  • a period or point of time which marks a change: before, after, since, until.
  • We lived there before Mother died.
  • I went to that school until I was sixteen.
  • I usually go there after work.
  • the duration of some event: for.
  • Helen stayed there for the whole of July.

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