A preposition is a word or group of words used before a noun, pronoun, or noun phrase to introduce an object, show direction, or specify a time, place, or location. They help connect thoughts, ideas, and descriptions, allowing the reader or listener to gather more specifics of a story. Some common prepositions you will see and use on a daily basis are words like “to”, “at”,“in”, and “on”, to name a few. Prepositions may have several definitions, so their meaning can change depending on the context in which they are used.

Prepositions are used in the following situations:

To tell us where one noun is in relation to another

The car is parked in the lot to the left.

To illustrate a purpose or contrast

The clinic is open every day, except holidays.

Types of Prepositions

Prepositions that indicate time:

The party ended at 8 PM.

Prepositions that indicate a location:

The new ice cream shop is next to the gas station.

Prepositions that indicate direction:

The train is heading to London.

Prepositions that indicate space:

The horse jumped over the log.

Preposition Examples

There’s no hard and fast rule that dictates which preposition to use in a phrase. The best way to learn which prepositions to use is through practice and reading high-quality English materials. Check out some of these examples.

We’re inviting ten friends over tonight.

Did you send that email to your manager?

A plane passed above us.

A group of fans waited outside the venue for a chance to meet their favorite singer.

The manatee lazily floated past us.

The contractor found some problems underneath the deck.

It has been ten years since they’ve seen each other.

Ending a Sentence With a Preposition

Ending a sentence with a preposition is perfectly fine. However, keep in mind that while ending a sentence with a preposition may be grammatically correct, it can be unnatural. Simply reorganizing the structure of the sentence and placing the preposition towards the end can make it flow more naturally.

Grammatically correct, but unnatural:

From where did he come?

Grammatically correct and natural:

Where did he come from?

Grammatically correct, but unnatural:

Underneath the box is where the spider is hiding.

Grammatically correct and natural:

The spider is hiding underneath the box.

Unnecessary Prepositions

Prepositions are great, but sometimes they can make a sentence longer than it needs to be. In some cases, you can make sentences more succinct by removing added prepositions.

There is a cute farmhouse up and around the bend.

Removing the word “up” shortens the sentence and makes it more concise:

There is a cute farmhouse around the bend.

You can also remove a preposition from a sentence completely.

The dog escaped by jumping up and over the fence.

Instead, remove “up and over” and shorten it to:

The dog escaped by jumping the fence.

See our next article about parentheses.