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A preposition is a word that links a noun, pronoun, or noun phrase to some other part of the sentence.

Prepositions can be tricky for English learners. There is no definite rule or formula for choosing a preposition. In the beginning stage of learning the language, you should try to identify a preposition when reading or listening in English and recognize its usage.

  • to the office
  • at the desk
  • on the table
  • in an hour
  • about myself

A preposition is used to show direction, location, or time, or to introduce an object.

Here are a few common prepositions and examples:

 

Prepositions "On" "At" & "In"

On

Used to express a surface of something:

  • I put an egg on the kitchen table.
  • The paper is on my desk.

Used to specify days and dates:

  • The garbage truck comes on Wednesdays.
  • I was born on the 14th day of June in 1988.

Used to indicate a device or machine, such as a phone or computer:

  • He is on the phone right now.
  • She has been on the computer since this morning.
  • My favorite movie will be on TV tonight.

Used to indicate a part of the body:

  • The stick hit me on my shoulder.
  • He kissed me on my cheek.
  • I wear a ring on my finger.

Used to indicate the state of something:

  • Everything in this store is on sale.
  • The building is on fire.

 

At

Used to point out specific time:

  • I will meet you at 12 p.m.
  • The bus will stop here at 5:45 p.m.

Used to indicate a place:

  • There is a party at the club house.
  • There were hundreds of people at the park.
  • We saw a baseball game at the stadium.

Used to indicate an email address:

  • Please email me at abc@defg.com

Used to indicate an activity:

  • He laughed at my acting.
  • I am good at drawing a portrait.

 

In

Used for unspecific times during a day, month, season, year:

She always reads newspapers in the morning.
In the summer, we have a rainy season for three weeks.
The new semester will start in March.

Used to indicate a location or place:

  • She looked me directly in the eyes.
  • I am currently staying in a hotel.
  • My hometown is Minneapolis, which is in Minnesota.

Used to indicate a shape, color, or size:

  • This painting is mostly in blue.
  • The students stood in a circle.
  • This jacket comes in four different sizes.

Used to express while doing something:

  • In preparing for the final report, we revised the tone three times.
  • A catch phrase needs to be impressive in marketing a product.

Used to indicate a belief, opinion, interest, or feeling:

  • I believe in the next life.
  • We are not interested in gambling.

 

Quiz

Identify all prepositions in the following sentences.

After flying for many hours, we finally got off the airplane. We walked out the exit and went to the baggage claim area. There were hundreds of different bags on the conveyer belt. I almost picked up the wrong one because it looked like mine.

 

Choose a correct preposition in the sentence.

1) I want to lose 5 kilogram __ (on, at, in) one month.
2) Could you get me this pants __ (on, at, in) a larger size?
3) She seems to be interested __ (on, at, in) Psychology.
4) I will come to pick you up __ (on, at, in) 2 pm tomorrow.
5) This class will be held __ (on, at, in) Mondays.

 

 

Prepositions "Of" "To" & "For"

Of

Used for belonging to, relating to, or connected with:

  • The secret of this game is that you can't ever win.
  • The highlight of the show is at the end.
  • The first page of the book describes the author's profile.
  • Don't touch it. That's the bag of my friend's sister.
  • I always dreamed of being rich and famous.

Used to indicate reference:

  • I got married in the summer of 2000.
  • This is a picture of my family.
  • I got a discount of 10% on the purchase.

Used to indicate an amount or number:

  • I drank 3 cups of chocolate milk.
  • A large number of people gathered to protest.
  • I had only 4 hours of sleep during the last 2 days.
  • He got a perfect score of 5 on his writing assignment.

 

To

Used to indicate the place, person, or thing that someone or something moves toward, or the direction of something:

  • I am heading to the entrance of the building.
  • The package was mailed to Mr. Syverson yesterday.
  • All of us went to the movie theater.
  • Please send it back to me.

Used to indicate a limit or an ending point:

  • The snow was piled up to the roof.
  • The stock prices rose up to $100 dollars.

Used to indicate relationship:

  • This letter is very important to your admission.
  • My answer to your question is in this envelop.
  • Do not respond to every little thing in your life.

Used to indicate a time or a period:

  • I work nine to six, Monday to Friday.
  • It is now 10 to five. (In other words, it is 4:50.)

 

For

Used to indicate the use of something:

  • This place is for exhibitions and shows.
  • I baked a cake for your birthday.
  • I put a note on the door for privacy.
  • She has been studying hard for the final exam.

Used to mean because of:

  • I am so happy for you.
  • We feel deeply sorry for your loss.
  • For this reason, I've decided to quit this job.

Used to indicate time or duration:

  • He's been famous for many decades.
  • I attended the university for one year only.
  • This is all I have for today.

 

Quiz

Choose the correct preposition in each sentence.

1) I slept ___ (of, to, for) only two hours last night.
2) It was my first trip __ (of, to, for) Hawaii.
3) Turn off the TV and go straight __ (of, to, for) bed.
4) This book was written ___ (of, to, for) the people who want to learn how to play a guitar.
5) I was late __ (of, to, for) school.
6) Spencer is one __ (of, to, for) my best friends.

 

 

Prepositions "With" "Over" & "By"

With

Used to indicate being together or being involved:

  • I ordered a sandwich with a drink.
  • He was with his friend when he saw me.
  • She has been working with her sister at the nail shop.
  • The manager will be with you shortly.

Used to indicate "having":

  • I met a guy with green eyes.
  • Were you the one talking with an accent?
  • People with a lot of money are not always happy.

Used to indicate "using":

  • I wrote a letter with the pen you gave me.
  • This is the soup that I made with rice and barley.
  • He cut my hair with his gold scissors.

Used to indicate feeling:

  • I am emailing you with my sincere apology.
  • He came to the front stage with confidence.

Used to indicate agreement or understanding:

  • Are you with me?
  • Yes, I am completely with you.
  • She agrees with me.

 

Over

Used to indicate movement from one place to another:

  • Come over to my house for dinner sometime.
  • Could you roll over?
  • They sent over a gift for his promotion.

Used to indicate movement downward:

  • The big tree fell over on the road.
  • Can you bend over and get the dish for me?
  • He pushed it over the edge.

Used to indicate more than an expected number or amount:

  • This amount is over our prediction.
  • Kids twelve and over can watch this movie.
  • The phone rang for over a minute.

Used to indicate a period of time:

  • I worked there over a year.
  • She did not sleep there over this past month.

 

By

Used to indicate proximity:

  • Can I sit by you?
  • He was standing by me.
  • The post office is by the bank.

Used to indicate the person that does something in a passive voice sentence:

  • The microwave was fixed by the mechanic.
  • The flowers were delivered by a postman.
  • The branch office was closed by the head office.

Used to indicate an action with a particular purpose:

  • You can pass the exam by preparing for it.
  • I expressed my feeling toward her by writing a letter.
  • She finally broke the record by pure effort.

Used to indicate a means or method:

  • Please send this package to the USA by airmail.
  • I came here by subway (metro).

 

Quiz

Choose the correct preposition in each sentence.

1) If she left at 4 p.m., she should be here ____ (with, over, by) now.
2) Go ____ (with, over, by) there and catch my ball.
3) ____ (With, Over, By) your determination, you will be able to achieve your dream.
4) I just found it! It was __ (with, over, by) the radio on my desk.
5) I knocked him ____ (with, over, by) accidentally.
6) She was ____ (with, over, by) me when the accident occurred.

 

 

Basic English Grammar Lessons:

  1. Parts of Speech
  2. Vocabulary
  3. Nouns
  4. Pronouns
  5. Verbs
  6. Adjectives
  1. Adverbs
  2. Prepositions
  3. Conjunctions
  4. Articles
  5. Tense
  6. Gerunds
  1. Infinitives
  2. Passive Voice
  3. Mood
  4. Interjections
  5. Capitalization
  6. Punctuation

Learning Conversational English

 

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