English Prepositions


Prepositions are words which show the relationship between a noun or a pronoun object and some other words in the sentence. They are always followed by nouns or pronouns. They are called "the biggest little words” in English because they have very important functions.

Also See:

Prepositions Exercises

PDF Worksheets: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10

Three Groups of Prepositions:

a. Prepositions of place, position and direction.
b. Prepositions of time.
c. Prepositions for other relationships.


SOME COMMON PREPOSITIONS
PLACEPOSITIONDIRECTIONTIMEOTHER
above
across
along
among
at
away from
behind
below
beside
between
beyond
by
down
from
in
in front of
inside
into
near
off
on
opposite
out (of)
outside
over
around
through
to
towards
under
up
after
before
at
by
for
during
from
in
except
as
like
about
with
without
by
for


Although prepositions are hard to generalize with separate rules, there is one simple rule about them. And, unlike most rules, this rule has no exceptions.


Rule:

They are always followed by a "noun", never followed by a verb.
By "noun" we include:

  • Noun (dog, money, love)
  • Proper Noun (name) (London, Mary)
  • Pronoun (you, him, us)
  • Noun Group (my first car)
  • Gerund (swimming)


If we want to follow with a verb, we must use the "-ing" form which is really a gerund or verb in noun form.

Subject + Verb Preposition "noun"
The pen is on the table.
He lives in England.
Henry is looking for you.
The newspaper is under your green book.
Pascal is used to English people.
She isn't used to working.
We ate before coming.



Prepositions of Time / Place at, in, on


  • At for a PRECISE TIME
  • In for MONTHS, YEARS, CENTURIES and LONG PERIODS
  • On for DAYS and Dates

At In On
At 4:30 pm in March on Monday
At 3 o'clock In Winter On 6 March
At noon In the summer On 22 Dec.2012
At dinnertime In 1990 On Christmas Day
At bedtime In the next century On your birthday
At the moment In the future On New Year's Eve


Notice that use of the prepositions of time in and on in these common expressions:

  • In the morning /On Monday morning
  • In the mornings / On Sunday mornings
  • In the afternoon(s) / On Sunday afternoons
  • In the evening(s) / On Friday evenings


When we say next, last, this, every we do not use at, in, on.

I went to New York last June (not in last June)
She is coming back next Monday. (not on next Monday)
I go home every Easter . (not at every Easter)
We'll call you this afternoon. (not in this afternoon)


Place: at, in, on


In General:

  • At for a POINT (dog, money, love)
  • In for an ENCLOSED SPACE
  • On for a SURFACE


At In On
At the bus stop In London On the wall
At the corner In the garden On the ceiling
At the entrance In a box On the floor
At the crossroads In a building On the carpet
At the top of the page In a car On a page



Some other common uses of at / on / in

At In On
At home In a car On a bus
At work In a taxi On a train
At school In a helicopter On a plane
At university In an elevator On a bicycle
At the top In the sky On the radio
At the bottom In the street On the left
At the side In a row On a horse
At reception In a boat On a boat

Notice how we can use on a boat or in a boat depending on the type and the size of the particular boat/ship.


More Prepositions

Prepositions use Example
duringwhile in during the movie, during the flight, during my stay
for for two days, for an hour
from / to from Saturday to Monday, from 5 to 9
between the time period from one to another between 1986 and 2012, between Saturday and Monday
until/till before a certain time until/till Sunday,5 o'clock
by at the least by Tuesday, by next month, by tomorrow
to movement towards to school, to work, to the station
into movement towards inside something into the cinema, into the car
out of to leave a place/a thing out of the theater, out of the car
by near/next to/beside LINK stand by me, by the lake
through through the tunnel, through the room
across opposite ends across the river, across the street
against against the wall, against the door
into movement towards inside something into the cinema, into the car
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