A word that shows the relationship between the object – noun or pronoun – and other words in the sentence.
Memorise how prepositions are to be used. There is no easy way out. Our notes here may help too!
The preposition is placed before a noun or pronoun. It shows the relationship between nouns and pronouns in the same sentence. It may be used to indicate position, place, direction or time.
Preposition of Position
With regard to places, in is used with larger areas – cities and countries; at is used for exact locations and for events.
- You can see a variety of frangipani in the park.
- The couple will spend their honeymoon in Spain.
When talking about heights or levels, you use below, over or under.
- The dog is sleeping under the bed.
- The plane flew over the hills.
Preposition of Direction
These prepositions indicate a movement towards a goal.
- Let’s go to the market.
- The swimmers walked into the sea.
- The students eagerly ran towards the campsite.
Preposition of Time
On is used for days and dates.
- The wedding will be on Saturday.
At is used to indicate a specific time.
- I’ll see you at six o’clock.
From … to and during are used to indicate a period of time.
- During the school holidays, students engage in community projects.
- The tulip festival is from March to May.
Other prepositions indicating time are before, until, after,since, and by.
- My wife exercises before breakfast.
- You can visit her after office hours.
- You must submit the forms by 1st July.
- Until now, I’ve always thought that she was a meticulous officer.
- She has been making a lot of progress since she started her exercise programme.
There are times when we are unsure which preposition we should use. These are some troublesome prepositions.
Beside and besides
Beside means ‘next to’.
- She sits beside me in the office.
Besides means ‘other than’ or ‘apart from’.
- Besides cooking, I enjoy reading a book when I’m free.
Between and among
Between is used when referring to two people, places or things.
Among is used for three or more people, places or things.
- Divide the cake among the five of you.
- The twins shared the sweets between themselves.
Differ with and differ from
When you differ with someone, you disagree with that person’s opinion or idea.
When you differ from someone, it means that you are unlike that person.
- The form teacher differed with the English teacher on the boy’s abilities.
- Mr Chan differed in his style of management from his predecessor.
Sometimes you may find it hard to decide which preposition you should use with a word.
This is a list to help you.
- according to
- angry with
- ashamed of
- bored with (something)
- comment on
- disagree with
- disappointed in (something)
- disappointed with (somebody)
- disgusted with (somebody)
- disgusted at (something)
- protest against
- rely on
- similar to
- write about (something)
- write to (somebody)
Phrasal verbs – verbs used with a preposition or adverb.
- back away – to retreat
- back down – retract or withdraw (from a position or argument)
- back out -fail to keep an agreement
- back up – make a copy of computer data back (someone) up – to support someone
- fall apart- break into pieces (literally) or become emotionally disturbed (figuratively)
- fall behind – make little progress
- fall out – have a bad relationship with someone fall through – be unsuccessful
- get across – communicate successfully get ahead – make progress
- get along- have a good relationship with someone get around to -finally manage to do something
- get back at- take revenge put across – communicate
- put (someone) down – insult someone
- put forward – suggest or nominate
- put up – allow someone to stay at your house for a few days put up with – tolerate