Learn the Locators in English Grammar


§  A preposition is a word which precedes a noun (or a pronoun) to show the noun’s (or the pronoun’s) relationship to another word in the sentence.

§  The word preposition comes from the idea of being positioned before. It is not true to say that a preposition always precedes a noun or a pronoun, but it does most of the time.

The following are all prepositions:
above, about, across, against, along, among, around, at, before, behind, below, beneath, beside, between, beyond, by, down, during, except, for, from, in, inside, into, like, near, of, off, on, since, to, toward, through, under, until, up, upon, with and within.


§  The book is on the table.

§  The book is leaning against the table.

§  The book is beside the table.

§  She held the book over the table.

§  She read the book during class.

Preposition Rule

There is one very simple rule about prepositions. And, unlike most rules, this rule has no exceptions.

Rule: A preposition is followed by a “noun”. It is never followed by a verb.

By “noun” we include:

§  noun (dog, money, love)

§  proper noun (name) (Bangkok, Mary)

§  pronoun (you, him, us)

§  noun group (my first job)

§  gerund (swimming)

A preposition cannot be followed by a verb. If we want to follow a preposition by a verb, we must use the “-ing” form which is really a gerund or verb in noun form.

Here are some examples:

subject + verbpreposition“noun”note
The food isonthe table.noun
She livesinJapan.proper noun
Tara is lookingforyou.pronoun
The letter isunderyour blue book.noun group
Pascal is usedtoEnglish people.
She isn’t usedtoworking.gerund
I atebeforecoming.

Types of prepositions:

1. Preposition of place

Prepositions of place describe the position of a person or thing in relation to another person or thing.

Now look at these example sentences based:

§  There is a cup on the table.

§  The helicopter hovered above the house.

§  The police placed a sheet over the body.

§  He stood in front of the door and rang the bell.

§  Ram sat beside Tara.

§  A small stream runs below that bridge.

§  He put the key under the doormat.

§  He put his hands behind his back.


In general, we use:

§  at for a POINT

§  in for an ENCLOSED SPACE

§  on for a SURFACE

Look at these examples:

§  Jane is waiting for you at the bus stop.

§  The shop is at the end of the street.

§  My plane stopped at Dubai and Hanoi and arrived in Bangkok two hours late.

§  When will you arrive at the office?

§  Do you work in an office?

§  I have a meeting in New York.

§  Do you live in Japan?

§  Jupiter is in the Solar System.

§  The author’s name is on the cover of the book.

§  There are no prices on this menu.

§  You are standing on my foot.

§  There was a “no smoking” sign on the wall.

§  I live on the 7th floor at 21 Oxford Street in London.

Notice the use of the prepositions of place atin and on in these standard expressions:

at homein a caron a bus
at workin a taxion a train
at schoolin a helicopteron a plane
at universityin a boaton a ship
at collegein a lift (elevator)on a bicycle, on a motorbike
at the topin the newspaperon a horse, on an elephant
at the bottomin the skyon the radio, on television
at the sidein a rowon the left, on the right
at receptionin Oxford Streeton the way


We use:

§  at for a PRECISE TIME


§  on for DAYS and DATES

Look at these examples:

§  I have a meeting at 9am.

§  The shop closes at midnight.

§  Jane went home at lunchtime.

§  In England, it often snows in December.

§  Do you think we will go to Jupiter in the future?

§  There should be a lot of progress in the next century.

§  Do you work on Mondays?

§  Her birthday is on 20 November.

§  Where will you be on New Year’s Day?

Notice the use of the preposition of time at in the following standard expressions:

at nightThe stars shine at night.
at the weekend*I don’t usually work at the weekend.
at Christmas*/EasterI stay with my family at Christmas.
at the same timeWe finished the test at the same time.
at presentHe’s not home at present. Try later.

·         *Note that in some varieties of English people say “on the weekend” and “on Christmas”.

·         Notice the use of the prepositions of time in and on in these common expressions:

in the morningon Tuesday morning
in the morningson Saturday mornings
in the afternoon(s)on Sunday afternoon(s)
in the evening(s)on Monday evening(s)

3. Preposition of Direction & Movement:

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 lab 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.

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