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PREPOSITIONS | PARTS OF SPEECH

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PREPOSITIONS

PREPOSITIONS

Prepositions refer to the words that placed before a noun or pronoun that shows its relationship to another words in a sentence.

They normally have no lexical meaning rather they perform grammatical functions. They used to link nouns, pronouns and phrases to other words in a sentence.

These involve above, about, across, against, along, among, around, at, before, behind, below, beneath, beside, between, beyond, by, down, during, except, for, from, in, inside, into, like, near, of, off, on, since, to, toward, through, under, until, up, upon, with and within etc.

TYPES OF PREPOSITIONS

1. Preposition of direction & place

It is used to describe the direction or to show where something is directed. These include to, towards, into, onto, from, along, opposite, beside, behind, in front, between, beside, in, on, at, above etc.

In can be used with a room, a building, a street, a town or a country. It is used to the things at rest.  Examples:

–          He is in the room.

–          I livein town.

–          My dresses areinthe bag.

On can be used for a surface or the floor or when something is on another thing. It is used to show things at rest.  Examples:

–          Mangoes are on the table.

–          The cat sitson the cupboard.

–          I found a pen on the chair.

At can be used for specific places where someone works or lives or at the object. Examples:

– A cat is at the gate.

-He is at school.

– She is availableat the office.

To used to show that something comes or starts somewhere and goes to a certain place. Examples:

–          I am goingto school.

–          We wentto the cinema.

–          They are herding to church.

From used to show that something originated in a certain place. Examples:

–          It comesfrom China.

–          I amfromMatombo.

–          We arefrom England.

Along used to show that something or someone is perpendicular to something else.Examples:

–          I am availablealongNyerere road.

–          The office is located along the school.

Opposite used to show that something is at the other side of another thing.Examples:

–          We are opposite CCM Mkoa.

–          Our home is opposite Club 84.

 

Beside used to show that something is available nearby other thing. Examples:

–          She sat beside me.

–          It available beside the chair.

Behind used to show that something is available at the back position of another object. Examples:

–          She sits behind me.

–          He left me behind.

In front used to show that something is available at the fore part of another thing. Examples:

–          I can speak in front of the mass.

–          She stands in front of the class.

Between used to show that something is available at the middle of two objects. Examples:

–          She sits between Ally and John.

–          It is between January and February.

Above used to show that one thing is over the other.

Examples:

–          The plane flew above the city.

–          It is above the average.

Into used to show that something is in the movement from outside towards inside of the other object. Examples:

–          The lion went into the cave.

–          The water flows into the bucket.

Onto used to show movement of an object from one level to another or movement towards a surface. Examples:

–          She climbed onto the truck.

–          Jane throw the stone onto the tree.

2. Preposition of time

It is used to show the time when an event occurs or takes place. These include on, in, at, since, for etc.

Prepositions of Direction

To refer to a direction, use the prepositions “to,” “in,” “into,” “on,” and “onto.”

  • She drove to the store.
  • Don’t ring the doorbell. Come right in(to) the house.
  • Drive on(to) the grass and park the car there.

2. Prepositions of Time

To refer to one point in time, use the prepositions “in,” “at,” and “on.”

Use “in” with parts of the day (not specific times), months, years, and seasons.

  • He reads in the evening.
  • The weather is cold in December.
  • She was born in 1996.
  • We rake leaves in the fall.

Use “at” with the time of day. Also use “at” with noon, night, and midnight.

  • I go to work at 8:00.
  • He eats lunch at noon.
  • She often goes for a walk at night.
  • They go to bed at midnight.

Use “on” with days.

  • I work on Saturdays.
  • He does laundry on Wednesdays.

To refer to extended time, use the prepositions “since,” “for,” “by,” “during,” “from…to,” “from…until,” “with,” and “within.”

  • I have lived in Minneapolis since 2005. (I moved there in 2005 and still live there.)
  • He will be in Toronto for 3 weeks. (He will spend 3 weeks in Toronto.)
  • She will finish her homework by 6:00. (She will finish her homework sometime between now and 6:00.)
  • He works part time during the summer. (For the period of time throughout the summer.)
  • I will collect data from January to June. (Starting in January and ending in June.)
  • They are in school from August until May. (Starting in August and ending in May.)
  • She will graduate within 2 years. (Not longer than 2 years.)

3. Prepositions of Place

To refer to a place, use the prepositions “in” (the point itself), “at” (the general vicinity), “on” (the surface), and “inside” (something contained).

  • They will meet in the lunchroom.
  • She was waiting at the corner.
  • He left his phone on the bed.
  • Place the pen inside the drawer.

To refer to an object higher than a point, use the prepositions “over” and “above.” To refer to an object lower than a point, use the prepositions “below,” “beneath,” “under,” and “underneath.”

  • The bird flew over the house.
  • The plates were on the shelf above the cups.
  • Basements are dug below ground.
  • There is hard wood beneath the carpet.
  • The squirrel hid the nuts under a pile of leaves.
  • The cat is hiding underneath the box.

To refer to an object close to a point, use the prepositions “by,” “near,” “next to,” “between,” “among,” and “opposite.”

  • The gas station is by the grocery store.
  • The park is near her house.
  • Park your bike next to the garage.
  • There is a deer between the two trees.
  • There is a purple flower among the weeds.
  • The garage is opposite the house.

4. Prepositions of Location

To refer to a location, use the prepositions “in” (an area or volume), “at” (a point), and “on” (a surface).

  • They live in the country. (an area)
  • She will find him at the library. (a point)
  • There is a lot of dirt on the window. (a surface)

5. Prepositions of Spatial Relationships

To refer to a spatial relationship, use the prepositions “above,” “across,” “against,” “ahead of,” “along,” “among,” “around,” “behind,” “below,”
“beneath,” “beside,” “between,” “from,” “in front of,” “inside,” “near,” “off,” “out of,” “through,” “toward,” “under,” and “within.”

  • The post office is across the street from the grocery store.
  • We will stop at many attractions along the way.
  • The kids are hiding behind the tree.
  • His shirt is off.
  • Walk toward the garage and then turn left.
  • Place a check mark within the box.

Prepositions Following Verbs and Adjectives

Some verbs and adjectives are followed by a certain preposition. Sometimes verbs and adjectives can be followed by different prepositions, giving the phrase different meanings.

To find which prepositions follow the verb or an adjective, look up the verb or adjective in an online dictionary, such as Merriam Webster, or use a corpus, such as The Corpus of Contemporary American English. Memorizing these phrases instead of just the preposition alone is the most helpful.

Some Common Verb + Preposition Combinations

About: worry, complain, read

  • He worries about the future.
  • She complained about the homework.
  • read about the flooding in the city.

At: arrive (a building or event), smile, look

  • He arrived at the airport 2 hours early.
  • The children smiled at her.
  • She looked at him.

From: differ, suffer

  • The results differ from my original idea.
  • She suffers from dementia.

For: account, allow, search

  • Be sure to account for any discrepancies.
  • I returned the transcripts to the interviewees to allow for revisions to be made.
  • They are searching for the missing dog.

In: occur, result, succeed

  • The same problem occurred in three out of four cases.
  • My recruitment strategies resulted in finding 10 participants.
  • She will succeed in completing her degree.

Of: approve, consist, smell

  • approve of the idea.
  • The recipe consists of three basic ingredients.
  • The basement smells of mildew.

On: concentrate, depend, insist

  • He is concentrating on his work.
  • They depend on each other.
  • I must insist on following this rule.

To: belong, contribute, lead, refer

  • Bears belong to the family of mammals.
  • I hope to contribute to the previous research.
  • My results will lead to future research on the topic.
  • Please refer to my previous explanation.

With: (dis)agree, argue, deal

  • (dis)agree with you.
  • She argued with him.
  • They will deal with the situation.

Although verb + preposition combinations appear similar to phrasal verbs, the verb and the particle (in this case, the preposition) in these combinations cannot be separated like phrasal verbs. See more about this on our verb choice page.

Some Common Adjective + Preposition Combinations

 
About
At
By
From
For
In
Of
To
With
Accustomed               X  
Aware             X    
Beneficial               X  
Capable             X    
Characteristic             X    
Composed     X       X    
Different       X          
Disappointed           X     X
Employed   X X            
Essential               X  
 
About
At
By
From
For
In
Of
To
With
Familiar                 X
Good   X     X        
Grateful         X     X  
Interested           X      
Happy X       X       X
Opposed               X  
Proud             X    
Responsible         X        
Similar               X  
Sorry X       X        

Ending a Sentence With a Preposition

At one time, schools taught students that a sentence should never end with a preposition.

This rule is associated with Latin grammar, and while many aspects of Latin have made their way into English, there are times when following this particular grammar rule creates unclear or awkward sentence structures.

Since the purpose of writing is to clearly communicate your ideas, it is acceptable to end a sentence with a preposition if the alternative would create confusion or is too overly formal.

Example: The car had not been paid for. (Ends with a preposition but is acceptable)

Unclear Revision: Paid for the car had not been. (Unclear sentence.)

Example: I would like to know where she comes from. (Ends with a preposition but is acceptable)

Overly Grammatical Revision: I would like to know from where she comes. (Grammatical but overly formal. Nobody actually speaks like this.)

However, in academic writing, you may decide that it is worth revising your sentences to avoid ending with a preposition in order to maintain a more formal scholarly voice.

Example: My research will focus on the community the students lived in.

Revision: My research will focus on the community in which the students lived.

Example: I like the people I am working with.

Revision: I like the people with whom I am working.

Prepositional Phrases and Wordiness

Like with pronouns, too many prepositional phrases can create wordiness in a sentence:

Example: The author chose the mixed-method design to explain that the purpose of the study was to explore the leadership qualities of the principals in the schools as a means to gauge teacher satisfaction in the first year of teaching.

This type of sentence could be shortened and condensed to minimize the prepositional phrases and bring clarity to the writer’s intent:

Revision: The author chose the mixed-method design to explore the principals’ leadership qualities and their impact on first-year teachers’ satisfaction.

Unnecessary Prepositions

If the preposition is unnecessary, leave it out. This creates more clear and concise writing.

Example: Where are the plates at?

Revision: Where are the plates?

Example: She jumped off of the balance beam.

Revision: She jumped off the balance beam.

EXERCISE

  1. He made his escape by jumping ______ a window and jumping ______ a waiting car.

(a) over / into (b) between / into (c) out of / between (d) out of / into (e) up to / out of

  1. To get to the Marketing department, you have to go ______ those stairs and then ______ the corridor to the end.

over / into

between / into

out of / between

out of / into

up / along

  1. I saw something about it ______ television.

in

on

at

through

with

  1. I couldn’t get in ______ the door so I had to climb ______ a window.

through / in

between / into

out of / between

out of / into

up / along

  1. She took the key ______ her pocket and put it ________ the lock.

over / into

between / into

out of / in

by / on

up to / out of

  1. He drove ______ me without stopping and drove off ______ the centre of town.

from / into

towards / over

along / up

past / towards

in / next to

  1. I took the old card ______ the computer and put ______ the new one.

through / in

out of / in

out of / between

out of / into

up / along

  1. I went ______ him and asked him the best way to get ______ town.

from / into

towards / over

along / up

by / on

up to / out of

  1. It’s unlucky to walk ______ a ladder in my culture. I always walk ______ them.

through / in

out of / in

under / around

out of / into

up / along

  1. The restaurant is ______ the High Street, ______ the cinema.

through / in

out of / in

under / around

in / next to

up / along

  1. Sally left school ______ the age of 16 and went to work ______ a bank.

through / in

out of / in

under / around

in / next to

at / in

  1. He jumped ______ the wall and ______ the garden.

over / into

towards / over

along / up

by / on

up to / out of

13        He was driving ______ 180 miles per hour when he crashed ______ the central barrier.

at / into

out of / in

under / around

in / next to

at / in

14        She ran ______ the corridor and ______ the stairs to the second floor.

from / into

towards / over

along / up

by / on

in / next to

15        John is the person standing ______ the window, ______ the woman with the long blonde hair.

at / into

beside / next to

under / around

in / next to

at / in

16        When the bull ran ______ me, I jumped ______ the fence.

from / into

towards / over

beside / next to

by / on

in / next to

17        Look, that car’s ______ fire.

through

with

in

into

on

18        He saw a parking space ______ two cars and drove ______ it.

over / into

between / into

along / up

by / on

up to / out of

19        Harry comes to work ______ car but I prefer to come ______ foot.

at / into

beside / next to

by / on

in / next to

at / in

20. He took the book ______ the shelf and put it ______ his bag.

from / into

at / into

beside / next to

by / on

in / next to

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