Prepositions are important in English because they help us to understand and describe relationships between things. Prepositions show how different elements in a sentence relate to each other in terms of time, place, direction, and more.

👉 Preposition List

Did you know?

The word preposition comes from Latin, where "pre" means before and "ponere" means to place. So a preposition literally means "place before". The name itself gives us a clue about its job.

What is a preposition?

A preposition is a word that shows the relationship between a noun (or pronoun) and other words in a sentence. Some common prepositions are "in", "on", "for", "to", "of", "by", "with" and "about".

  • The cat is on the table.
  • She walked to the store.
  • I will meet you at 3 o'clock.
  • He sent the information by email.

Prepositions have no particular form. They are short and sweet words, but some can be a bit longer.
  • We live in a small town.
  • The cat is hiding under the bed.
  • Don't eat between meals.
  • We walked through the forest.
Most prepositions are single words. However, some prepositions need two or three words to do their job. In this case, the whole phrase acts like a single preposition.
  • According to David, it's a great movie.
  • He would have joined the marathon but for a knee injury.
  • The cat is sitting in front of the fireplace.
  • The team played well in spite of the bad weather.
Types of prepositions
There are different types of prepositions, each with a specific function in a sentence. They are as follows:

Prepositions of time are used to show when something happens.
  • I have a meeting at 3 PM.
  • I was born in December.
  • Do you work on Mondays?
Prepositions of place describe the location or position of something in relation to another object.
  • The cat is in the box.
  • The book is on the table.
  • The shoes are under the bed.
Direction or movement
Prepositions of direction or movement are used to show where something is going or moving.
  • I am walking to the park.
  • She is coming from the store.
  • The cat jumped into the box.
Agent, instrument, or device
Prepositions of agent, instrument, or device are used to show how or in what way something is done.
  • The letter was written by Maria.
  • She cut the paper with scissors.
  • We communicated via email.
Reason or purpose
Prepositions of reason or purpose show why something happens or the purpose behind an action.
  • He studied hard for the exam.
  • The game was canceled because of the rain.
  • He left early so as to avoid the traffic.
Prepositions of connection link two or more elements in a sentence. They show the relationships between them.
  • Did you go with John to the museum last Saturday?
  • The team brainstormed to find a solution to the problem.
  • I'm going to visit a friend of mine who lives nearby.
Prepositions of origin show where something or someone comes from. They describe the source or starting point of an action or the location of origin.
  • We started our trip from London.
  • Maria is of Italian descent.
One preposition, many meanings
A single preposition can belong to two or more types based on its usage in different contexts. For instance, "in" can express various relationships depending on the context.
  • She is in the room.
  • We will meet in the afternoon.
  • Say it in English.