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A preposition is one of the eight parts of speech. Specifically, a preposition is a connector: its function is to connect a noun or pronoun (called the object of the preposition) to another word in a sentence. It also shows how that noun or pronoun (its object) is related to the other word. Consequently, a preposition can never stand alone: it must always be contained within a phrase (a group of words) called a prepositional phrase. Most often, prepositions show relationships of direction, location, and time, but they can also express other relationships as well (for example, the prepositions, but, except, without, etc. show a relationship of exclusion).


Commonly used prepositions:

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

Let’s look at how prepositions show a relationship to a word in the rest of the sentence.

“On the monkey bars” is the prepositional phrase. It is a modifier that tells us where Jana likes to play. It is modifying the verb “to play.”

Examples of Prepositional Phrases:

  1. Jane fell on the floor. (direction)
  2. He retired after his seventieth birthday. (time)
  3. The girl is standing beside her mother. (location)
  4. The students finished the English exam within an hour. (time)

Sometimes prepositions occur as combinations. The following examples are some of the more common of these compound prepositions:

ahead of, apart from, as a consequence of, because of, on behalf of, in advance of, instead of, in addition to, in the course of, regardless of, in care of, in comparison with, according to, in case of, for fear of, next to, in favor of, with the exception of, up against, at the risk of, along with, in spite of, in connection with, together with, as a result of

Examples of compound prepositions.

  1. As a result of the flood, we had to move out of our home.
  2. Instead of going to Sea World this summer, we are going to Fiesta Texas.

Next, this handout breaks into four parts:

  1. Choosing the Right Preposition: Problem Pairs
  2. Choosing the Right Preposition to Say what You Mean
  3. Phrasal Prepositions
  4. Idiomatic Prepositions