Preposition is a word or group
of words that express a
relationship between a noun or
a pronoun and another word in
a sentence, and we use them
to show places, position, time
There are about 150 prepositions
The prepositions of, to and in are
among the ten most frequent
words in English.
•At refers to a place where
Tom’s at the door
My sister is at school
•In refers to the inside of a
place, for example a room,
town or container:
He is in the kitchen.
We live in Oberá.
•On is used when something is
touching a surface:
The bread is on the table.
There is a photo on the wall.
We also use on in these phrases: on
the left/right, on the first/second/top
floor, on the other side of the road.
•Other prepositions of place include:
Above: at a higher level “The plane flew above the
Below: at a lower level “The divers went 100 feet
below the surface of the ocean.”
Beside: near, at the side of “There is a small table
beside my bed.”
Next to: right beside, close to “Sam sat next to his
boss at the meeting.”
(In) between: in the space that separates two objects
“She parked her car (in) between the two trucks.”
Behind: at the back of “In baseball, the umpire stands
behind the catcher.”
In front of: at the front of “There is a beautiful oak
tree in front of our office.”
•To and towards show
movement in the direction of
we drove to London.
He ran towards the door.
•Into and out of show
movement towards or away
from the inside of something:
she jumped into the pool.
He climbed out of the pool.
•Onto and off show movement towards
or away from a surface:
the glass fell onto the floor.
I took the photo off the wall.
•Other prepositions of movement include
across, along, over, through, up and down:
she walked across the street (= from one
side to the other).
He walked along the pavement (staying
on the pavement).
she climbed over the fence (across the
He walked out through the door (from
one side to the other).
Important to consider
• At or in? Let’s meet at the restaurant (inside or
outside). Let’s meet in the restaurant (inside).
•Arrive at or arrive in? We arrive in a country, city or
town; but we arrive at a building or other place:
the plane arrived in Madrid. We arrived at the airport.
• On or in? We travel on a train, bus or plane; but in a
car: I always read when I am on the train. The journey
takes an hour in a car.
•At is used with clock times, periods of
time and to refer to somebody’s age:
at lunch time,
at the age 33.
•In is used:
•With parts of the day, months, seasons, years
in the morning, in May, in the summer, in 2005,
in the 19th century.
•To talk about things that will happen at the end of
a period of time:
I will be back in an hour/in a week/in a few
•To refer to the lengths of time something takes:
I read the book in four hours.
We got back in 20 minutes.
•On is used with days and dates:
On 12th October,
On Saturday afternoon,
On New Year’s Day,
Other prepositions of time:
• Before: taking place at an earlier time:
call me before 10 o’clock.
• After: taking place at a later time: I will
see you after the match.
• By: at or before a point in time: We
must leave by six.
• Since: starting from a point in time: we
have been here since Thursday.
•For: lasting a period of time: we waited
for an hour.
• During: happening in or over a period
of time: I shared a flat during my stay in
London. I fell asleep during the play.
• Until/till up to a certain time: we will
work until six o’clock and then we will go
• Past (a point in time): It’s past midnight.
• Through (a period of time): they worked
through the night.
We use as when we describe someone’s job or the main
purpose/function of something:
She works as a teacher.
• Like means:
His car is like mine.
She looks like her brother.
Rubbish, like glass and paper, can be recycled.
We say the same as (not the same like):
your car’s the same as mine.
•We also use what + be / look / sound / smell / taste + like to ask
for a description of someone or something: what’s Tom like? What
does curry taste like?
A prepositional phrase will begin with
a preposition and end with a noun,
pronoun, gerund, or clause, (the "object"
of the preposition).
•The object of the preposition will often have
one or more modifiers to describe it. These are
the patterns for a prepositional phrase:
Preposition + noun, pronoun, gerund or clause
Preposition + modifier (s) + noun, pronoun, gerund
Here there are some examples of the most basic
• At home
At = preposition; home = noun.
• In time
In = preposition; time = noun.
• From Richie
From = preposition; Richie = noun.
• With me
With = preposition; me = pronoun.
• By singing
By = preposition; singing = gerund.
• About what we need
About = preposition; what we need = noun clause.
Important to remember
• We say in cash but by cheque/ credit card: would you
like to pay in cash or by cheque.
• We say on purpose but by accident/ chance: he was
late on purpose.
I met Anna by chance.
• Compare on time and in time: the train arrived on time
(= at the correct time)
We got to the station in time to catch our train (= early