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Prepositions
Prepositions are short words (on, in, to) that usually stand in front of nouns (sometimes also in front
of gerund verbs).

Even advanced learners of English find prepositions difficult, as a 1:1 translation is usually not
possible. One preposition in your native language might have several translations depending on the
situation.

There are hardly any rules as to when to use which preposition. The only way to learn prepositions is
looking them up in a dictionary, reading a lot in English (literature) and learning useful phrases off by
heart (study tips).

The following table contains rules for some of the most frequently used prepositions in English:

Prepositions – Time

 English                              Usage                                         Example


      on          days of the week                                  on Monday

      in          months / seasons                                  in August / in winter
                  time of day                                       in the morning
                  year                                              in 2006
                  after a certain period of time (when?)            in an hour

      at          for night                                         at night
                  for weekend                                       at the weekend
                  a certain point of time (when?)                   at half past nine

    since         from a certain point of time (past till now)      since 1980

     for          over a certain period of time (past till now)     for 2 years

     ago          a certain time in the past                        2 years ago

   before         earlier than a certain point of time              before 2004

      to          telling the time                                  ten to six (5:50)

    past          telling the time                                  ten past six (6:10)

   to / till /    marking the beginning and end of a period         from Monday to/till Friday
     until         of time

  till / until    in the sense of how long something is going       He is on holiday until Friday.
                   to last

      by          in the sense of at the latest                     I will be back by 6 o’clock.
                                                                     By 11 o'clock, I had read five
English                                 Usage                                     Example

                    up to a certain time                              pages.


Prepositions – Place (Position and Direction)

  English                                      Usage                                   Example


      in               room, building, street, town, country               in the kitchen, in London
                       book, paper etc.                                    in the book
                       car, taxi                                           in the car, in a taxi
                       picture, world                                      in the picture, in the world

      at               meaning next to, by an object                       at the door, at the station
                       for table                                           at the table
                       for events                                          at a concert, at the party
                       place where you are to do something typical         at the cinema, at school, at
                        (watch a film, study, work)                          work

      on               attached                                            the picture on the wall
                       for a place with a river                            London lies on the Thames.
                       being on a surface                                  on the table
                       for a certain side (left, right)                    on the left
                       for a floor in a house                              on the first floor
                       for public transport                                on the bus, on a plane
                       for television, radio                               on TV, on the radio

  by, next to,         left or right of somebody or something              Jane is standing by / next
    beside                                                                   to / beside the car.

    under              on the ground, lower than (or covered by)           the bag is under the table
                        something else

    below              lower than something else but above ground          the fish are below the
                                                                             surface

     over              covered by something else                           put a jacket over your shirt
                       meaning more than                                   over 16 years of age
                       getting to the other side (alsoacross)              walk over the bridge
                       overcoming an obstacle                              climb over the wall

    above              higher than something else, but not directly        a path above the lake
                        over it

    across             getting to the other side (also over)               walk across the bridge
                       getting to the other side                           swim across the lake
English                                  Usage                                   Example


    through           something with limits on top, bottom and the      drive through the tunnel
                       sides

          to          movement to person or building                    go to the cinema
                      movement to a place or country                    go to London / Ireland
                      for bed                                           go to bed

         into         enter a room / a building                         go into the kitchen / the
                                                                          house

    towards           movement in the direction of something (but       go 5 steps towards the
                       not directly to it)                                house

         onto         movement to the top of something                  jump onto the table

         from         in the sense of where from                        a flower from the garden


Other important Prepositions

English                          Usage                                         Example


  from         who gave it                                  a present from Jane

    of         who/what does it belong to                   a page of the book
               what does it show                            the picture of a palace

   by          who made it                                  a book by Mark Twain

   on          walking or riding on horseback               on foot, on horseback
               entering a public transport vehicle          get on the bus

    in         entering a car / Taxi                        get in the car

   off         leaving a public transport vehicle           get off the train

  out of       leaving a car / Taxi                         get out of the taxi

   by          rise or fall of something                    prices have risen by 10 percent
               travelling (other than walking or            by car, by bus
                horseriding)

    at         for age                                      she learned Russian at 45

  about        for topics, meaning what about               we were talking about you

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Prepositions

  • 1. Prepositions Prepositions are short words (on, in, to) that usually stand in front of nouns (sometimes also in front of gerund verbs). Even advanced learners of English find prepositions difficult, as a 1:1 translation is usually not possible. One preposition in your native language might have several translations depending on the situation. There are hardly any rules as to when to use which preposition. The only way to learn prepositions is looking them up in a dictionary, reading a lot in English (literature) and learning useful phrases off by heart (study tips). The following table contains rules for some of the most frequently used prepositions in English: Prepositions – Time English Usage Example on  days of the week  on Monday in  months / seasons  in August / in winter  time of day  in the morning  year  in 2006  after a certain period of time (when?)  in an hour at  for night  at night  for weekend  at the weekend  a certain point of time (when?)  at half past nine since  from a certain point of time (past till now)  since 1980 for  over a certain period of time (past till now)  for 2 years ago  a certain time in the past  2 years ago before  earlier than a certain point of time  before 2004 to  telling the time  ten to six (5:50) past  telling the time  ten past six (6:10) to / till /  marking the beginning and end of a period  from Monday to/till Friday until of time till / until  in the sense of how long something is going He is on holiday until Friday. to last by  in the sense of at the latest  I will be back by 6 o’clock.  By 11 o'clock, I had read five
  • 2. English Usage Example  up to a certain time pages. Prepositions – Place (Position and Direction) English Usage Example in  room, building, street, town, country  in the kitchen, in London  book, paper etc.  in the book  car, taxi  in the car, in a taxi  picture, world  in the picture, in the world at  meaning next to, by an object  at the door, at the station  for table  at the table  for events  at a concert, at the party  place where you are to do something typical  at the cinema, at school, at (watch a film, study, work) work on  attached  the picture on the wall  for a place with a river  London lies on the Thames.  being on a surface  on the table  for a certain side (left, right)  on the left  for a floor in a house  on the first floor  for public transport  on the bus, on a plane  for television, radio  on TV, on the radio by, next to,  left or right of somebody or something  Jane is standing by / next beside to / beside the car. under  on the ground, lower than (or covered by)  the bag is under the table something else below  lower than something else but above ground  the fish are below the surface over  covered by something else  put a jacket over your shirt  meaning more than  over 16 years of age  getting to the other side (alsoacross)  walk over the bridge  overcoming an obstacle  climb over the wall above  higher than something else, but not directly  a path above the lake over it across  getting to the other side (also over)  walk across the bridge  getting to the other side  swim across the lake
  • 3. English Usage Example through  something with limits on top, bottom and the  drive through the tunnel sides to  movement to person or building  go to the cinema  movement to a place or country  go to London / Ireland  for bed  go to bed into  enter a room / a building  go into the kitchen / the house towards  movement in the direction of something (but  go 5 steps towards the not directly to it) house onto  movement to the top of something  jump onto the table from  in the sense of where from  a flower from the garden Other important Prepositions English Usage Example from  who gave it  a present from Jane of  who/what does it belong to  a page of the book  what does it show  the picture of a palace by  who made it  a book by Mark Twain on  walking or riding on horseback  on foot, on horseback  entering a public transport vehicle  get on the bus in  entering a car / Taxi  get in the car off  leaving a public transport vehicle  get off the train out of  leaving a car / Taxi  get out of the taxi by  rise or fall of something  prices have risen by 10 percent  travelling (other than walking or  by car, by bus horseriding) at  for age  she learned Russian at 45 about  for topics, meaning what about  we were talking about you