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English grammar(prepositions)

Introduction to Prepositions

Prepositions are mostly single words used before a pronoun, noun, noun phrase, or verb to express their relationship with the rest of the sentence. They are used to show when something happens (prepositions of time), where something happens (prepositions of place), or where something is going (prepositions of movement). There are many prepositions, some of which are as listed below :
about, above, after, along, among, before, behind, beside, between, by, for, from, in, into, like, near, of, off, on, over, to, since, through, under, until, up, with, within, without.

A preposition can also be a two-word or three-word combination. It is called a compound preposition. Two-word compound prepositions include according to, because of, different from, due to, and instead of. Some examples of three-word compound prepositions are as far as, in addition to, in front of, and in spite of. There are many more two-word and three-word compound prepositions.
Same preposition can be used for different expressions.
He had a catnap at lunchtime. (Preposition used to indicate time.)
We will wait for you at the entrance to the stadium. (Indicates place)
A stranger pointed at me. (Indicates direction)
I shall meet you at 2 o’clock on Sunday

Same feeling can use different prepositions.
They got really angry with him for arriving late.
He was angry at their lack of efficiency.
We are very angry about plans to build a heliport nearby.

Prepositions of Time

Prepositions of time indicate the period of time that something happens (during, from, since, throughout, until, etc)
I had a couple of terrifying nightmares during the night.
She swears never to talk to me again from tomorrow.
His girlfriend has been missing since last Sunday.
He slept throughout the lecture.
They said I was breastfed until the age of six.

Prepositions of time used to indicate a particular time (at, by, in, on, etc)

I had a big argument with my grandma at lunchtime.
The funeral should be over by five o’clock.
The astrologer said I would be dead in five years.
The boss is always sleepy on Monday mornings.

Prepositions of time used to indicate a particular time in relation to another (after, before, etc)

I start to wonder whether I will be Heaven or Hell after death.
I usually need to go to the toilet before having my breakfast.

Prepositions of Place

Prepositions of place tell us the position of something (across, in, inside, on, outside, etc).
  • The newly built bridge across the river has just collapsed.
  • His alarm clock went off twice and he is still in bed.
  • There was something like a snake inside the dark cage.
  • There was a fly on the bull’s nose.
  • I fell asleep while waiting outside the clinic for my turn.

Prepositions of place tell us the position of something in relation to another (behind, beside, between, in front, near, etc)
  • Behind his farmhouse was a big scary scarecrow.
  • I sat beside a snoring lady in the cinema.
  • There is an awkward gap between her two front teeth.
  • Someone parked a tractor in front of our house.
  • Don’t go near her. She’s got a bad cold.

Prepositions of Direction

These prepositions show direction of movement to somewhere (into, onto, to, etc).
  • A fly got into his soup while he was eating it.
  • I must have put the pumpkin onto someone else’s trolley in the supermarket.
  • The teacher has gone to the loo again.

These prepositions show direction of movement from somewhere (away from, from, off, etc).
  • He warned them to keep away from his daughter.
  • Two tigers in the circus have escaped from their cage.
  • The strong wind blew the wig off his head.

Compound Prepositions

Two-word compound prepositions (according to, aside from, because of, next to, etc).
  • According to his mother, he often talked in his sleep.
  • Her face was perfect aside from that one hairy mole.
  • The bucks fought hard and it’s all because of a doe.
  • The detective didn’t know he was sitting next to a wanted man.

Three-word compound prepositions (as far as, in addition to, in front of, in spite of, on account of, etc)
  • The explosion could be heard as far as the police station, which is five kilometers away.
  • In addition to an apple tree in his backyard, he has a pear tree in front ofhis house.
  • They continued with their search and rescue mission in spite of the bad weather.
  • He can’t sing any more on account of his failing health.

Usage guidelines

Prepositions are simple words, but they are not as easy to use as they appear to be. If used wrongly, they become adverbs or conjunctions and convey different meaning.

A preposition is followed by a noun or a pronoun. 
We go jogging every day after work. (Preposition) 
(The preposition is after and is followed by the noun work.)

An adverb comes after a verb and is not followed by an object. 
We got here not so long ago and she arrived after. (Adverb) 
(After is an adverb that comes after the verb arrived.) 

A conjunction has a clause that comes after it. 
We arrived after he had left. (Conjunction) 
(The clause he had left comes after the conjunction after.)
 More examples: 
  • She was up until three o'clock watching the movie. (Preposition)
  • He stayed there until the rain stopped. (Conjunction) 
  • She's got a job as a horse trainer. (Preposition)
  • The husband was fat, and his wife was just as fat. (Adverb)
  • We watched as he was flying his kite. (Conjunction)
  • He didn't tell anyone but his lawyer. (Preposition)
  • We have but one week to meet the deadline. (Adverb)
  • You are not only my best friend but also my business partner. (Conjunction)
  • We walked round the marketplace. (Preposition)
  • They gathered round to listen to his encounter with a wild pig. (Adverb)
  • In that tree, I saw two big, round eyes which must be the owl's. (Adjective)
  • Beautiful pictures can be found inside the book. (Preposition)
  • The book has beautiful pictures inside. (Adverb)
  • The inside pages of the book have beautiful pictures. (Adjective)
Some more words:
Words used as prepositionsadverbs, or adjectives: insideoutsidepast,round

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