Propositions are parts of speech that you use every day in English grammar to build your sentence structure into something that is understandable. But, when I ask a class to name a preposition, they struggle to provide an answer despite their adept use of them.
Most teachers assume prepositions are easily recognized because they are a lesson taught early in grade school. But for English language learners or secondary students, a review is necessary.
Let’s take a look at a quick preposition basics guide to help you recognize what a preposition is and why you use them is important.
What Is a Preposition?
Prepositions are words (or groups of words) that are placed before a noun, noun phrase, or pronoun. They offer information concerning an introduction of an object, time, direction, place, location, and spatial relationships.
They are very common, familiar, and uncomplicated. There are over 150 prepositions regularly used in the English language, but the average person only uses approximately 50 of the same ones over and over.
- The wind pushed the door into the glass window, causing it to shatter. (Preposition: into)
- We found our lost kite between the fence and trees in the backyard. (Prepositions: between, in)
Prepositions Concerning Time
When referring to one point in time, the prepositions “in,” “at,” and “on” are commonly used.
- We build a snowman in the winter.
- We wake up for school at 5 am every day.
- I write my lesson plans on Thursday every week.
When referring to extended time, use the prepositions “since,” “by,” “for,” “during,” “within,” etc.
- I have been working here since 2014.
- I should be done with work by 5:00.
- I will be on vacation for two weeks.
- I work during the weekends.
- I will be done within the next 2 hours.
Prepositions Concerning Direction
When referring to directions, use the prepositions “to,” ”in,” “into,” “on,” and “onto.”
- I’m going to the theater after work.
- When you arrive, walk in the front door and past the window that leads into the kitchen.
- Don’t walk on the grass.
- Instead, walk up the stairs onto the pathways that lead into the backyard.
Prepositions Concerning Place and Location
When referring to places, use the preposition “in” to explain the point itself, “at” for a general vicinity, “on” for surface placement, and “inside” for things that are contained.
- I’ll meet you in the classroom after school.
- Wait at the corner for me to pick you up.
- Leave your tablet on the desk.
- The pens are inside the office drawer.
When referring to objects higher or lower than a specific point, use the prepositions “over” and “above” or “below,” “under,” “beneath,” and “underneath.”
- The mosquito evaded us by flying over our heads and back under the window.
- Put your backpack beneath your desks.
- Get the dog out from underneath the deck.
When referring to objects close to a point, use the prepositions “among,” “next to,” “near,” “by,” etc.
- My car is parked near the curb.
- Go next door and ask if they have any sugar.
- Your shoes are by the back door.
- The cat is lying among the flowers.
The word (or group of words) placed before a noun, noun phrase, or pronoun is called a proposition. These are simple words that provide information about the time, direction, location, and spatial relationships of the subject or objects in a sentence.
We use them every day in our speech, and their placement is important so your audience understands you.
Let’s practice recognizing correct prepositional use in the grammar exercises below!