§ 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.
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 + verb||preposition||“noun”||note|
|The food is||on||the table.||noun|
|She lives||in||Japan.||proper noun|
|Tara is looking||for||you.||pronoun|
|The letter is||under||your blue book.||noun group|
|Pascal is used||to||English people.|
|She isn’t used||to||working.||gerund|
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.
PREPOSITIONS OF PLACE: AT, IN, ON
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 at, in and on in these standard expressions:
|at home||in a car||on a bus|
|at work||in a taxi||on a train|
|at school||in a helicopter||on a plane|
|at university||in a boat||on a ship|
|at college||in a lift (elevator)||on a bicycle, on a motorbike|
|at the top||in the newspaper||on a horse, on an elephant|
|at the bottom||in the sky||on the radio, on television|
|at the side||in a row||on the left, on the right|
|at reception||in Oxford Street||on the way|
2. PREPOSITIONS OF TIME: AT, IN, ON
§ at for a PRECISE TIME
§ in for MONTHS, YEARS, CENTURIES and LONG PERIODS
§ 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 night||The stars shine at night.|
|at the weekend*||I don’t usually work at the weekend.|
|at Christmas*/Easter||I stay with my family at Christmas.|
|at the same time||We finished the test at the same time.|
|at present||He’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 morning||on Tuesday morning|
|in the mornings||on 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.