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English Language English Grammar: «Prepositions»

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Preposition

Prepositions are short words (on, in, to) that usually stand in front of nouns (sometimes also in front of gerund verbs).

A prepositions describes a relationship between other words in a sentence or phrase.


In itself, a word like "in" or " after" is rather meaningless and hard to define. For instance, when you try to define a preposition like "in" or " between" or "on", you invariably use your hands to show how something is physically situated in relationship to something else.


Prepositions are nearly always combined with other words in structures called prepositional phrases.


Prepositional phrases can be made up of a million different words, but they tend to be built the same: a preposition followed by an optional determiner and an optional adjective (or two) followed by a noun or pronoun (called the object of the preposition).


This whole phrase, in turn, takes on a modifying role, acting as an adjective or an adverb, locating something in time and space, modifying a noun, or telling when or where or under what conditions something happened.


  • Prepositions indicate relationships between other words in a sentence.
  • Many prepositions tell you where something is or when something happened.
  • Most prepositions have several definitions, so the meaning changes quite a bit in different contexts.
  • When prepositions combine with verbs to create phrasal verbs, such as "put up (with)" (tolerate) and "put down" (insult), the meanings are not usually simply a sum of the two words put together.
  • Ending an English sentence with a preposition is not a grammatical error.

Examples[edit | edit source]

You can sit before the desk OR in front of the desk.


The professor can sit on the desk (when he's being informal) or behind the desk, and then his feet are under the desk or beneath the desk.


He can stand beside the desk (meaning next to the desk), before the desk, between the desk and you, or even on the desk (if he's really strange).


Here are examples of prepositions and their meaning:


Preposition Meaning Example
about for topics, meaning what about I was talking about you
above higher than, or over The sun is above the clouds.
across from one side to the other It's dangerous to run across the road.
adjacent be next to, be beside something The parking lot is adjacent to the park.
along from one end to the other  They are walking along the road.
among surrounded by John was among the spectators.
at position in space or time He learned Russian at 45 / He is at the store.
behind at the back of  Passengers sit behind the driver.
below lower than  His shorts are below his knees.
beneath under The pen was beneath the books.
beside next to The bank is beside the cinema.
between in the space separating two things Mary sat between Tom and Jane.
by who made it A book by Mark Twain
close to near The bank is close to the school
down from higher to lower He pulled down the blind.
for what is intended I bought this book for you.
from where something starts or originates The wind is blowing from the south.
from source / point of origin A present from Jane
in located within Get in the car!
in front of directly before The child ran out in front of the bus.
inside in the inner part of  The bird is inside the cage.
into enter a closed space He went into the shop.
near close to The school is near the church.
next to beside The bank is next to the cinema.
off movement away from a source The men get off the train.
on in a position touching a surface  The plate is on the table.
onto move to a position on a surface  The cat jumped onto the roof of the car.
opposite facing, on the other side Eva sat opposite Tom at the table.
out of leaving a car / taxi The passengers get out of the taxi
past beyond He drove past the supermarket.
round in a circular movement  The earth moves round the sun.
through from one side to the other The Seine flows through Paris.
throughout in every part of The virus spread throughout the country.
to in the direction of; towards On the way to the station.
towards in the direction of The child ran towards her father.
under beneath, below Water flows under the bridge.
underneath beneath There was dust underneath the rug.
up towards or in a higher position He walked up the stairs.

Contributors

Vincent, Taffa, Pajal7, Tafsico, Meris17, Piquk77 and ExRanger


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