How to use prepositions in English speaking and writing

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How to use Prepositions in English speaking and writing


Prepositions are the words which show relation between nouns or pronouns in the same sentence. We use them to make our speech clear. Here we will learn all the details of prepositions including definition, types, uses and examples. Here it is interesting to note that same preposition can be used for showing different relations such as in, on, at are used to show time or place or direction.

Definition of the preposition— The words or group of words which show various aspects of nouns or pronouns such as place, time, direction or various other relations are called as prepositions.

Types of preposition—

1)Prepositions of direction—






2)Prepositions of time—












3)Prepositions of place—













13next to




4)prepositions of location—




5)Prepositions of Relating to or occupying space—




4)Ahead of










14)In front of




18)out of





6)Prepositions following verbs and adjectives—

1)About—Worry about

2)At—Look at

3)From—Differ from

7)Prepositional phrases—

1)On time, In time, By chance, out of fashion, At risk

These are some of the types of the prepositions.

Now we will see complete list of 96 prepositions.

List of important prepositions

  1. abroad
  2. About
  3. Above
  4. According to
  5. Across
  6. After
  7. Against
  8. Ago
  9. Ahead of
  10. Along
  11. Amidst/amid#
  12. Among
  13. Amongst
  14. Apart
  15. Around
  16. As
  17. at
  18. Away
  19. Barring
  20. Because of
  21. Before
  22. Behind
  23. Below
  24. Beneath
  25. Beside
  26. Besides
  27. Between
  28. Beyond
  29. But
  30. By
  31. By means of
  32. Circa*
  33. Concerning
  34. Despite
  35. down
  36. due to
  37. during
  38. in
  39. in accordance with
  40. in addition to
  41. in case of
  42. in front of
  43. in place of
  44. in spite of
  45. in to
  46. inside
  47. instead of
  48. into
  49. except
  50. except for
  51. excluding
  52. for
  53. following
  54. from
  55. hence
  56. like
  57. minus
  58. near
  59. next
  60. next to
  61. past
  62. per
  63. prior to
  64. round
  65. off
  66. on
  67. on account of
  68. on behalf of
  69. on to
  70. on top of
  71. onto
  72. opposite
  73. out
  74. out from
  75. out of
  76. out side
  77. over
  78. owing to
  79. than
  80. through
  81. throughout
  82. till
  83. times
  84. to
  85. toward
  86. towards
  87. under
  88. underneath
  89. unlike
  90. until
  91. unto
  92. up
  93. upon
  94. via
  95. with
  96. within

Some special and exceptional uses of important prepositions

*Explanation of the preposition Circa—

It often refers to preceding a date or approximately around that period

Example —

  1. This historic church was built circa 1750.

2)His ancestor was born circa 1780.

3)This fact was recorded in the books circa 1850.

4)Our house has a large ceiling fan circa 1990.

#Explanation of the prepositions amid vs amidst—

I)Amid—It is a preposition which refers two meanings—

1)In the middle of, surrounded by, among.

e.g. Sam looked for his friend amid the crowd.

2) during in or throughout the course of.

e.g.-1) you understood her courage amid the crisis.

2) he started his business amid the great depression

II)Amidst—It is a preposition which refers same meaning referred by amid. In fact amid is older word than amidst which came in use around 1250-1300 A.D.

e.g.1) Sam looked for his friend amidst the crowd.

  1. he started his business amidst the great depression.

III)in to vs into—

1)in to—Here in is an adverb followed by the preposition to—

E.g.1) the owner will not give in to the demands of the workers.

2) she turned her paper in to the examiner.

2) into—Here is used to indicate movement toward the inside of a place.

E.g.-1) They jumped into the river for swimming.

2)He dived deep into the sea.

IV)onto vs on to—

1)onto—It is used as one word to mean on top of, to a position on upon.

E.g. 1) He climbed onto the roof.

2)They rushed onto the dance floor.

2)on to—we use on to as two words when on is part of the verb and to is preposition.

E.g. 1) He was going to log on to the computer.

2)We cancelled surprise party after realizing that others have caught on to our plan.

Now we have become familiar with the prepositions and it is time to study the rules, traditions and directions for using prepositions correctly as same preposition is used for different purposes depending upon sentence and need to show varied relations between nouns or pronouns in the same sentence.

1)How to use prepositions of direction

We have seen all the prepositions of direction in the above given list. As the title itself shows that prepositions of the direction shows the directions of nouns or pronouns and their movement. They give the sense of place or location.

Eg. 1)Above—It shows higher relative to something else.

Eg.1) The cups are above the plates in the shelf.

2)Across—it shows the other side of —-

Eg. 1)He went across the streets.


Eg.1)They travelled along the Sea.

4)Among—within a group of more than two

Eg.1)The was among the taller trees.

5)Around—It shows a circular way

Eg.1)He turned around.

6)At—It indicates a particular point

Eg.1)She is at home.

7)Behind—At the back of

Eg1)Don’t talk behind me.

8)Below—Lower, relative to something else

Eg1)His row was below my row in the stand.

2)Prepositions of time—

As the title shows these are used to show the time which we express using 12 active voice tenses and the most important 8 passive voice tenses.

E.g.—-in, on, at

a)In—It is used to show months, years, morning ,afternoon , evening, seasons, centuries, eras

E.g.1)He goes to work in the evening.

2)Weather is very cold in November.

3)There is scorching heat in the summer.

4)He ruled the world in fifteenth century.

b)On—It is used to show days, dates, holidays, weekends, days+ morning/afternoon/evening

eg.1)He will come on Monday.

2)She joined this company on 2nd January.

c)At—It is used to show clock times, exact times of day, night, holiday periods.

Eg.1)I will call you at 5.00 p.m.

3)Prepositions of place—

They show place

a)In—It shows the point itself

eg.1)He is in his school.

b)At—It shows general vicinity.

Eg.1)She is at the bus-stop.

c)On—It shows surface.

Eg.1)The book is on the table.

d)Inside—It shows something contained.

Eg.1)I kept my books inside my bag.

We can use over and above to refer an object higher than a point.

e)Over—It is used to show something without touching somewhere high.

Eg.1)The sky is over our heads.

2)The birds flew over the house.

f)Above—It shows without touching exactly above.

Eg.1)The fan is above our heads.

2)Books are above the papers’ shelf.

We use below, beneath, under, underneath, down to refer an object lower than a point of use.

g)Below—It shows lower than something, down.

Eg.1)Temperature was below 20 degree.

2)The basement is below ground level.

h)Beneath—It shows down from something.

Eg.1)There is hardwood beneath the carpet in my home.

2)The flowers are beneath the tree.

i)Under/underneath—It shows exactly below something.

Eg.1)Fruits are underneath the leaves.

2)He sat under the tree.

j)Down—It shows something to downward direction.

Eg.1)He was going down the hill.

We use by, near, next to, between (Two things), among (surrounded by more than two things), opposite to refer to an object close to a point.

Eg.1) The petrol pump is by the grocery store.

2)The park is near my home.

3)You can park your car next to my car.

4)my house is between the shop and the building.

5)My house is among many trees.

4)Prepositions of location—-

They are used to show location.

Eg.1)In—We use in to refer to a location.

Eg.1)She lives in America.

2)At—We use at to refer to a point.

Eg.1)She is at school library.

2)You live in Mumbai at Kurla.

3)On—We use on to refer to a surface.

Eg.1)There is dust on the window.

5)Prepositions Relating to something or occupying space—

1)Above—He is standing above the car.

2)Across—She went across the street in search of her bag.

3)Against—I am not against modern thoughts.

4)Ahead of—Kids are walking ahead of the elders.

5)Along—They will see many attractions along the way.

6)Among—He was standing among his friends.

7)Around—We can see many people around us without homes.

8)Behind—They will hide behind the tree to protect from the rain.

5)Prepositions following the verbs and adjectives—

a) About—worry/complain/read-

1)He is worried about his future.

2)She always complains about the traffic.

3)You can read about the world history.

b) At—arrive/smile/look-

1)He arrived at the air-port.

2)She smiled at her friend.

3)She looked at the board.


1)The results differed from my expectations.

2)People suffer from cold during the winter.

d)For—account for/allow for/search for

e) In—Occur in/result in/succeed in-

e) Of—Approve of / consist of/smell of.

f) On—Concentrate on/depend on/insist on

g) To—belong to/contribute to/lead to

h) With—agree with/argued with/deal with

6)Prepositional phrases—-

1)In time—She arrived in time.

2)On time—He will come on time.

3)By chance—I met him by chance.

4)Out of fashion—Old things are never out of fashion.

5)At risk—You can join this job at your risk.

6)In demand—Online teaching material is in demand now.

7)By luck—He survived by luck.

8)Out of pity—He helped you out of pity.

7)Exceptional sentences ending with prepositions

Generally sentences do not end with prepositions but some exceptions are there.

Eg.1)The house had not been paid for.

2)Where are you from?

3)I like the people I am living with.

8)Some specific uses of prepositions and differences between two related prepositions.

1)About—It is used for topics/what about.

Eg.1)We are talking about cricket.

2)At —It is used for mentioning age.

Eg.1)He got married at the age of 25.

3)Out of—It is used to show movement and outside.

Eg.1) He got out of the car.

4)To—It is used to show movement to person/building/place/country.

Eg.1) She is going to Canada.

5)In/Into—In is used to show inside and stable and into is used to show inside with movement.

Eg.1) The chemical is in the bottle and I want to pour water into it.

6)Between/among—Between is used to show position between two things and among is used to show position among many (More than two)

Eg.1) I distributed sweets between John and Sam.

2)I distributed sweets among my friends.

7)Within/through—-Within is used to show something happening before time or within given specific time. Through is used to show Moving ahead through something.

Eg.1) You should finish it within 5 hours.

2)He went through a lot of difficulties last year.

8)Into/Out of—Into is used to show movement and inside and out of is used to show movement and outside.

Eg.1)When she gets into the car , He gets out of the car.

9)On/Upon—-On is used to show stable upon something (Touching it) and upon is used to show Movement and up of something.

Eg.1)The bag is on the car and he jumped upon the car to take it down.

10)On/Under—On is used to show on something and stable and under is used to show Under something.

Eg.1) The mobile is on the table and Laptop is under the table.

11)Over/above—-Over is used to show something higher without touching and above is used to show without touching exactly above something.

Eg.1) The sky is over our heads and ceiling fan is above our heads.

12)With/without—-With is used to show something with and without is used to show excluding (without) something.

Eg.1) He is walking with his friends but he is walking without his sports shoes.

13)Around/behind—Around is used to show things around something and behind is used to show behind something.

Eg.1) There are many trees around my home but my favorite coconut tree is behind Jackfruit tree.

Conclusion for prepositions in English and rules for their use

These are important prepositions and rules to use them. Single preposition is used to show different stages and states. So sometimes it is bit confusing to use them and even more to bind them in the rules.

Still I have made my best using my all experience and knowledge Basically there are prepositions used for referring time, place, direction, relations of nouns or pronouns. Also we have prepositional phrases, prepositions followed by verbs and adjectives and occupying space.

As far as I am concerned the best way to master the use of prepositions is to read such articles frequently and try exercises.

I am sure, you find it useful. Thanks.

All green lights, with love + respect from team

Dipak D. Jagtap: Always the learner.Having spent 16 years in English language training, its time now to reach the world to learn more and to share my experience and practices....

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