Preposition- Definition and examples

A preposition is a word placed before a noun or a pronoun to show in what relation the person or thing denoted by it stands in regard to something else.

Example: The book in the shelf; the preposition in shows the relationship between the book and the shelf.)  The preposition is almost always before the noun or pronoun and that is why it is called a preposition.

1. There is a donkey in the street

2. Ben is fond of music

3. The boy jumped over the fence

In sentence 1, the word shows a relation between two things – Donkey and street. The preposition joins a noun to another noun.

In sentence 2, the word shows a relation between the attribute expressed by the adjective fond and music. The preposition joins a noun to and adjective.

In sentence 3, the word shows the relation between the action expressed by the verb jumped and the fence. The preposition joins a noun to a verb.

In, of, over are prepositions.

Kinds of prepositions
1. Simple Prepositions:
with , by, to, in, of, on, from, at, for, off, out, through, till, up, with.
2. Compound Prepositions which are generally formed by prefixing a Preposition to a noun, an adjective, or an adverb.
About, above, across, along, amidst, among, amongst, around, before, behind, below, beneath, beside, between, beyond, inside, outside, underneath, within, without.
3. Phrase Prepositions (group of words used the force of a single preposition)
according to, agreeably to, along with, away from, because of, by means of, by way of, in favor of, in front of, in addition to, in order to, in spite to, instead of, owing to, with regard to and so on.
A group of words containing a preposition, a noun or pronoun object of the preposition, and any modifiers of the object is prepositional phrase.

It is important to identify the prepositional phrase any noun or pronoun within the prepositional phrase must be the preposition’s object to avoid the mistake of identifying it as a verb’s direct object. 
 The noun or pronoun which is used with a preposition is called its object.


Prepositions: Locators in Time: on, at, in.
One Point in time.
On is used to designate dates and days:
  • I will see you on Thursday.
  • The week begins on Sunday.
  • We are having a party on the 15th of August.

At is used to designate specific times with noon, night, midnight, and with the time of day:

  • My plane leaves at noon.
  • The movie starts at 6 p.m.

In is used in nonspecific times during a day, a month, a year, a season:

  • She likes to sleep in the evening .
  • The days are long in Summer.
  • The movie was released in 1999.
  • The pollen allergies will rise in spring.

Extended time.

To express extended time, since, for, by, from—to, from-until, during,(with)in

  • Manu has been gone since yesterday. (Manu left yesterday and has not returned.)
  • He is going to Pune for a month. (He will spend a month there.)
  • The circus showed from August to October. (Beginning in August and ending in October.)
  • The posters were up from spring until fall. (Beginning in spring and ending in fall.)
  • I play guitar during the evening. (For some period of time in the evening.)
  • We must finish the project within a week. (No longer than a week.)

Prepositions of place at, on, in: 

We use at for specific addresses.

  • Mr. Ron lives at Elf Road near the mountains.
  • We use on for names of streets, avenues etc.
  • The University is on Parliament Road.

We use in for the names of land areas. (towns, counties, states, countries, and continents)

  • Henry lives in London.
  • Noida is in Uttar Pradesh.
  • Taj Mahal is in Agra.
  • There is a monster in the room.
  • Ray kept the present inside the box.
  • He left the books on the table.
  • Karim was waiting at the corner.

Higher than a point

To express notions of an object being higher than a point: over, above.

  • The cow jumped over the moon
  • Hang that umbrella above the couch.

Lower than a point

To express notions of an object being lower than a point: under, underneath, beneath, below.

  • The squirrel burrowed under the ground.
  • The dog hid underneath the blanket.
  • The book is beneath the table.
  • The valley is below sea-level.

Close to a point

To express notions of an object being close to a point: near, by, next to, between, among, opposite.

  • Their house is near the school.
  • There is a salon shop by the store.
  • A Cherry tree grows next to my house
  • The house is between Jillian Street and Mangrove Street.
  • I found my phone lying among the books.
  • The hotel is opposite that building.

To introduce objects of verbs

At: glance, laugh, look, rejoice, smile, stare

  • Narcissus glanced at his reflection. (exception with mirror: Narcissus glanced in the mirror.)
  • You didn’t laugh at his joke.
  • She is looking at the computer monitor.
  • The country rejoiced at his safe arrival.
  • That pretty girl smiled at you.
  • Stop staring at me.

Of: approve, consist, smell

  • I don’t approve of his actions
  • His contribution to the country consists of many sacrifices.
  • He came home smelling of alcohol.

Of (or about): dream, think

  • I dream of finishing the project in four days.
  • Can you think of an alphabet between  a to z?
  • We were thinking about this problem.

For: call, hope, look, wait, watch, wish

  • Did someone call for an appointment?
  • Rob hopes for a raise in salary next year.
  • We hope for a better future.
  • Kate is looking for my glasses.
  • We’ll wait for Manu here.
  • You go buy the tickets and I’ll watch for the train.
  • If you wish for a success in this venture, you should work hard.
Prepositions with forms of transport
We use by +noun when we talk about means of transport. We do not use the or a/an before the noun.
  • We travelled by train. (not by the train or a train)
  • He went to school by bike.
We don’t use by when the reference is to specific bicycle, car, train etc.
  • Siraj went there on my bike.
  • We travelled in Mr. Rob’s minivan.
  • They came in a taxi.
  • I’ll go on the 7.15 bus.
We use on to mean a specific bicycle, bus, train, ship or plane and in to mean a specific car,  taxi, van, lorry, or ambulance.
We say on foot not by foot.
He goes to school on foot. (He walks to the office)
Note 1: The preposition is often placed at the end when the object is an interrogative pronoun, or a Relative pronoun. The preposition follows an object, and not present before the object.
  • That is the girl (whom) I was speaking of.
  • These are the papers ( which) we were looking for.
  • What are you thinking of?
  • Which of these messages did you finish looking at?
Note 2: Sometimes the object is placed first for the sake of emphasis
  • This I insist on. No one should go home today.
The prepositions for, from, in, on are often omitted before nouns of place or time.
  • We did it last month.
  • She can’t walk a mile.
  • Wait a second.
Practice Quiz 

Fill in the following with proper preposition

  • My friend lives ———– Park’s Avenue.
  • He will be ready to leave ———— twenty minutes
  • Since he met his new girl friend, Shawn never seems to be —— home
  • The child responded —– throwing tantrums.
  • I will wait —– 6.p.m., but then I am going to the movie.
  • What are the main points given —– this passage?
  • He is named—– his grandfather.
  • Tom stayed up —- 2 a.m. in the morning.
  • We frequently see about violence —– the T.V
  • I told her we will be there —- an hour.