Prepositions and how to use them.

A brief explanation.

Prepositions are short words that usually go in front of nouns (and gerunds, which are verbs acting as nouns).
We use prepositions to show time and place. They help to explain how the subject and object of a sentence relate to each other.

  • Prepositions of PLACE talk about where people or things are.
    • The dog is in the garden.
    • The book is on the table.
    • My son is at school.

  • TO is used mainly to show direction, to say where something or someone is going.
    • I am going to work.
    • The cat jumped onto the gate.
    • I am putting my pen into my pocket.

  • Prepositions of TIME tell us when something is happening.
    • I will be ready in a few minutes.
    • I go to school on Mondays.
    • I love to go walking at night.


NOTE: In questions, we usually put the preposition at the end of the sentence (not the beginning),
so that the question and the answer are formed in the same way.

  • Question: What do you drink wine from? – Answer: I drink wine from a glass.
  • Question: Which country do you live in? – Answer: I live in England.

For a more detailed explanation, see Lessons A1.05 & A1.06.

To get your lessons from A0 Beginners (FREE) to B2 Upper Intermediate, just click here.

Here are 25 of the most often used prepositions in English, listed in alphabetical order.

About After Against Among Around
As At Before Between By
During For From In Into
Like Of On Out Over
Through To Under With Without

Prepositions are abstract words that have no concrete meaning. They merely show the relationships between groups of words. A good way to test if a word is a preposition, is to position it in front of phrases like ‘the box’ or ‘the sides of the box’ and see if the phrase makes sense. For example: In the box, on the box, near the box, under the box, etc.

Concerning time, try putting the preposition in front of a phrase like ‘the movie’. For example: During the movie, before the movie, after the movie, etc. This works for about nine out of ten prepositions.
Adapted from Prepositions by K.Wheeler.

Related Content

Prepositional Phrases
Prepositions – Oxford Dictionaries.

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