The word that shows the placement or position of the noun is called a Preposition. In other words, it is called as the magic word of English Grammar. In this session learn Preposition Rules, Preposition Words and example of Sentences with Prepositions.
Types of Preposition
- Prepositions used before Time expressions.
- Prepositions used before Place expressions.
- Prepositions used to refer Movement & positions.
- Prepositions used with certain Adjectives.
- Prepositions used with certain Verbs.
Prepositions used before time expressions
1. We generally use at before an exact point/moment of time.
Ex. – At 3.30 PM, At 6 O’ clock, At noon, At sunset, At midnight etc.
We also say at the beginning of the lesson, at the end of the lesson.
2. Besides, we also use at before the festivals which are taken as important points in the year.
Ex. – At Christmas, At Easter, At New Year
We give presents to each other at New Year.
We also say at bed time, at breakfast time and at dinner etc.
1. We use on before names of specific dates.
Ex. – On 17th January, On August 15, 1947.
2. We also use on before names of specific days.
Ex. – On Sunday, On Friday, On Tuesday.
3. We use on before names of special days.
Ex. – On New Year’s Day, On Christmas Day, On her wedding day
4. We also use on before a specific part of any such days and dates.
Ex. – On Friday morning, On Chirstmas evening, On the night of 10th October.
1. We use in before longer periods of time.
Ex. – In Summer, In Spring, In August, In 1972, In the 20th century, In the Middle Ages.
2. We also use in before parts of a day.
Ex – In the morning, In the afternoon, But, We commonly say At night.
I work best at night.
3. ‘In’ is also used to show how long something takes to happen.
Ex. – I can run 200 meters in 25 seconds.
4. We use ‘In’ to say how soon something will happen.
Ex. – I will be ready in a few minutes.
1. During can be used instead of in before longer period of time.
(a) We shall be on holiday in/during August.
(b) I woke up three times in/during the night.
2. But during can not be replaced by in
(a) When the idea of the duration of time is stressed by the use of words such as whole and entire etc.
Ex. – Ranu was absent from college during the whole of August.
(b) When we refer to an activity, rather than to a period of time.
Ex.- During the journey I came to like and respect him.
3. We don’t use during, but in, when the periods are contrasted.
Ex. – My parents usually visit Puri in October, but last year they visited in April.
By means not later than a particular point of time and perhaps before. In other-words, by means at or before/on or before.
Ex. – You must be home by 10 P.M. (at or before 10 P.M.)
UNTIL or TILL
Until or Till is generally used to show that an action stops when a particular point of time is reached.
Ex. – He will wait until 10 A.M.
Let’s wait until 5 P.M. (The action of waiting may continue upto 5 P.M. but then stops at that point)
‘For’ is used to indicate a period of action without definite starting or ending points. ‘For’ is generally used to show how long an action or state lasts. In can be used to talk about the past, present and future.
Ex. – I haven’t seen him for a month.
They will be away for a week.
Since is used to give the starting point of an action or situation that continues or continued upto the moment of speaking. It is mainly used with perfect aspect.
Ex. – I haven’t seen him since Monday.
We have been working since 6 a.m. this morning.
FROM ….. TO
From ….. to is generally used to talk about a period of action with a definite starting point and ending point.
Ex. – They are working in the fields from 6 A.M. to 6 p.M.
1. The prepositions at, in & on are not used when the time expressions begin with last, next, each, every, some, any, this, that, these etc.
Ex. – I met him last week.
They met her this morning.
2. Yesterday, today, tomorrow & tonight etc. beside being noun phases, are used as adverbs, and therefore donot take prepositions before them.
Ex. – I met him yesterday.
It may rain tonight.
prepositions used before place Expressions (IN, AT, ON):
Places of work and living :
(a) When no specific place is named, we use IN –
1. My friend lives in a village.
2. He lives in a European country for 5 years.
3. Rakesh prefers to live in the city.
Similarly we say in a town, in the desert, in an island (if big in size)
But we say at the sea side and on an island (if it is small in size)
(b) We also use ‘in’ before the names of large land area, i.e countries, continents, provinces, districts, blocks etc.
Similarly ‘in’ is also used before names of capital, cities and large cities like Delhi, Mumbai, London and Paris, etc.
1. They used to live in India.
2. My brother lives in London.
(c) But we normally use at before the names of villages, towns & small cities.
He stayed at Baripada for some days.
But when the speaker thinks that he belongs to the place, either because he lives there or he happens to be there at the moment of speaking, he may use in.
1. We are staying in Bhubaneswar these days.
2. I still prefer to live in Pipili.
Place of residence (buildings & houses etc.)
(a) When no specific building is named or presupposed, we use IN.
Ex. 1. He spent two nights in a college.
2. They wanted to stay in a hotel.
Similarly we say in a flat, in a mansion, in a modern house etc.
(b) When the name of the building, or its address is given or pre-supposed, we use at.
Ex. 1. He spent two nights at Hotel Taj, New Delhi.
2. He lives at 16, Ashok Nagar, Bhubaneswar.
(c) We use in before names of streets & roads :
Ex. 1. My friends live in Link road, Cuttack.
2. They live in Lewis road, Bhubaneswar.
Places of Work :
(a) If a particular place is indicated, we use at.
Ex. My brother works at the Main Branch, SBI, Bhubaneswar.
Similarly we say at the public library, at the Railway station, at the Airport etc.
(b) When a particular place is not indicated we use in, provided it is a building.
Ex. 1. His mother works in a bank.
2. The shopkeeper was in the shop.
Similarly we say in an office, in a shop, in factory etc. But if it is not a building, on is used.
1. They used to work on a farm.
2. The principal lives on the college campus.
Similarly : on the railway, on a tea plantation, on an estate.
(c) We use in before names of particular department.
Ex. I work in the education department of Orissa.
Similarly in the Health Department, in the Works Department etc.
Prepositions Referring to movement and position (AT, IN, TO):
At or IN :
(a) At is used to say where you are in a general way. It does not tell us exactly whether you are in, on, under or behind.
1. I am sitting at my desk.
2. He is at home.
3. My sister is at the University.
Similarly at school, at the airport, at the bus-stop.
(b) But ‘In’ is more specific than at.
1. I keep my pens in my desk.
2. There are some policemen in the University.
(c) Arrive In/At :
Arrive at the station, at the airport, at the sea. (But we say arrive in a village, in a town, in a city, in a place)
TO or AT :
To suggests movement.
But at suggests the final point of the movement.
Ex. – He goes to the door (movement)
He is at the door (position)
Again, in a sense “At” suggests aggresion, “To”, co-operation.
Don’t throw the stone at me. (Aggresion)
Throw the ball to me. (Co-operation)
AT or IN :
When we think at the event, we use at.
Ex. – Were there many people at the party ?
Similarly : at the meeting, at the match, at the film. But, when we think of the building, we use in.
Ex. – Were there any people in the hotel ?
IN and INTO :
Into refers to movement, but in refers to rest or position.
Ex – 1. The coin fell into the glass. (Movement)
2. Then coin was in the glass (No movement)
“In” can also be used for movement. Ex. – Come in (movement).
ON, ONTO :
Onto is used like into to show movement, from one place to another. But “On” is used to show position or rest.
Ex. – The ball fell onto the floor. (Movement)
The ball was on the floor. (Position)
Simillarly, we say : A calender on the wall, on the second floor. On may also suggest moment.
Ex. – The soldiers were marching on the enemy.
Similarly, we say that a place is on the coast, on a river, on a road.
Ex. – London is on the River Thames.
Again, we say in the corner of a room, but at/on the corner of a street.
Ex. – There is a TV in the corner of the room.
There is a telephone box at/on the corner of the street.
Above and Below :
Over and Under – Over and under describe a vertical relationship, on the other hand, above and below describe the relative points of two things when one is higher/lower than the other.
Ex. – 1. The man is leaning over the wall.
2. The cat is under the table.
But, 1. The plane was flying above the clouds.
2. The temperature is below zero in the poles.
Ex. – He is swimming against the current.
He was leaning against the wall.
Raju was pushing against the wall.
Between and Among:
Between is normally used in relation to two persons/things or two rows of persons/things.
Ex.- Y is between X and Z.
Among is used in relation to more than two persons and things.
Ex. – It’s nice to be among friends.
Across, Through, Along :
Across is used to show that someone is crossing something from one side to another.
Ex. – The child ran across the road to greet his friend.
We drove across the field.
Through is used to indicate the movement of something in an area.
Ex. – We travelled through the forest.
Along is used to indicate the movement of somebody or something on the side of something like road and river.
Ex. – We walked along the road.
The cattles are grazing along the river
Fixed prepositional expressions:
There are number of words that are used with definite prepositions. These prepositional phrases are used as fixed expressions such as on business, on purpose, by day, by road, in figure, in cash etc.
At ease, At sight, At rest, At once, At heart, At work, At war, At present, At length, At hand, At first, At sea, At peace, At least, At last, At the end (End point of a period), At short notice, At a temperature, At a speed of, In the end (Finally), At play, At the age of.
By accident, By day, By oneself, By chance, By night, By letter, By design, By good fortune, By hand, By heart, By name, By surprise, By post, By sight, By mistake, By cable, By rights, By telegram.
In brief, In ink, In danger, In fact, In due course, In love, In general, In common, In cash, In difficulty, In words, In secret, In figure, In need, In reply, In the sun, In the rain, In time (without being late, soon enough), In bad weather, In stock, In block letters, In turn, In particular, In public.
On purpose, On foot, On a tour, On horse back, On radio, On time (punctual), On TV, On duty, On a cruise, On fire, On sale, On a diet.
Out of control, Out of reach, Out of danger, Out of doors, Out of turn, Out of hearing, Out of place, Out of work, Out of order, Out of stock, Out of sight, Out of date.
(f) THOSE Relating to Means of transport :
Generally we use by before the means of transport :-
By bus, By plane, By land, By bicycle, By car, By sea, By coach, By air, By ship, By train
But we can’t use ‘by’ before a means of transport if it is used with a pronoun or determiner. In that case ‘on’ is used if the means of transport is an open vehicle and ‘in’ is used if it is a closed and privately owned vehicle.
Ex.- On my scooter, In his car, On a bicycle, In a taxi, On foot, In the jeep
Read more : Prepositions used with certain adjectives & verbs.