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What is a preposition?

A preposition is a word used to link nouns, pronouns, or phrases to other words within a sentence. Prepositions are usually short words, and they are normally placed directly in front of nouns. In some cases, you’ll find prepositions in front of gerund verbs.

There are two very important rules to remember when using prepositions. Because they are somewhat vague, learning about prepositions and using them correctly in sentences takes practice. Because 1:1 translation is often impossible when dealing with propositions, even the most advanced English students have some difficulty at first.

  • The first rule is that certain propositions must be used to make the relationships between words in a sentence clear. Most prepositions are interchangeable but only to a certain extent.
  • The second rule for using prepositions is that these words must be followed by nouns.

There are more than 100 prepositions in the English language. In addition, there are endless possibilities for creating prepositional phrases. In the following sections, you will find examples of prepositions, types of prepositions, a comprehensive list of prepositions, and some helpful preposition exercises.

As you read the examples and study the list, remember that prepositions usually convey concepts such as comparison, direction, place, purpose, source possession, and time.

Examples of Prepositions

In the following sentences, examples of prepositions have been italicized. As you read, consider how using different prepositions or even different types of prepositions in place of the examples might change the relationship between the rest of the words in the sentence.

I prefer to read in the library.

He climbed up the ladder to get into the attic.

Please sign your name on the dotted line after you read the contract.

Go down the stairs and through the door.

He swam across the pool.

Take your brother with you.

Types of Prepositions

There are three types of prepositions, including time prepositions, place prepositions, and direction prepositions.
Time prepositions are those such as before, after, during, and until; place prepositions are those indicating position, such as around, between, and against; and direction prepositions are those indicative of direction, such as across, up, and down. Each type of preposition is important.