What is a Preposition?
The word preposition is made of two words, pre and position. Pre means before, and position means the position of any particular thing. A preposition connects different parts of speech and shows the relations between them. These are essential words for producing correct sentences and for effective communication. Using the wrong preposition in a sentence produces an entirely different meaning.
Let’s take an example of how the simple change of a preposition makes a signiﬁcant change in the sentence’s meaning, compare the following two almost similar sentences.
1) She went to the post office to send a letter to his father.
2) She went to the post office to send a letter for his father.
In sentence (1), his father is expected to receive a letter from him.
In sentence (2), she helped her father by going to the post office in his place because he could not go at that time.
Definition & Examples of Preposition
A word or group of words usually (but not always) placed before a noun or pronoun to show the relationship of time, place, or reason with some other terms in a sentence is called preposition.
Read the following examples sentences and note the relationship preposition show in each sentence.
- John’s travelled by plane.
- He looked at him.
- They arrived on Monday.
- I am tired of waiting.
In the first sentence, the preposition “by” relates two nouns.
In sentence (2), the preposition “at” relate two pronouns.
In the third sentence, the preposition “on” relate pronoun and noun.
In the fourth sentence, the preposition “of” show the relationship between pronoun and participle.
Object of Preposition Definition and Examples
The noun or pronoun that follows the preposition is called its object.
In the following sentence, the words written in italic are objects of the given preposition.
- He puts his bag on the table.
- We voted for him in the election.
- They thought about giving a present to him.
- She walks into the bedroom.
- I live with my grandfather.
- The child threw the ball onto the floor.
- She was walking behind me.
- Sometimes a preposition is followed by two objects.
- He gave money to my friend and me.
- They distributed the apples among the boys and the girls.
A pronoun followed by a preposition should be in the objective case, i.e. me, him, her, us, and them.
- Is she in her home?
- She always takes care of us.
- She looks at us all the time.
- She lives with her grandfather.
If a verb goes immediately after a preposition, it should be in -ing (gerund) form.
- He is good at swimming.
- After studying, I slept for an hour.
- Instead of playing cricket, we went to the hillside.
- I do believe in wasting time.
If a preposition is used alone without a noun, or a pronoun, etc., the supporting word is understood in such cases.
- The girls have gone up (the stairs).
- I saw her went into (the room).
- There is a boy outside (the door).
Position of a Preposition in a Sentence with Examples
A preposition can go in several different positions in a sentence. The usual position of a preposition is the front position before its object, but it may come at the end of a sentence or defining relative clause. Placing a preposition at the end of a sentence is especially needed when we ask a question. In some cases, the preposition can be used either in the beginning or at the end; both sound good and correct.
- Which city did you go to?
- About what are you talking?
- What are you talking about?
- She is listing to some music.
- From where did you buy this shoe?
- The child needs looking after.
- They’re impossible to work with.
In formal English grammar, placing a preposition at the end of a sentence is considered wrong. But in modern language usage, the ending of a sentence is perfectly acceptable if it sounds better that way.
He brought a bag to put his book in.
If we move the preposition to somewhere else in the sentence, it will sound worse.
He brought a bag in which to put his books.
There is the man she gave the coffee to.
There is the man to whom she gave the coffee.
Difference Between Adverb and Preposition with Examples
The simple difference between preposition and adverb is that preposition always governs an object (a noun or pronoun following the preposition)
But adverbs never have an object.
Several words can be used as a preposition and sometimes as an adverb.
Let’s explain the concept with some example sentences.
- Preposition- He comes before us to the party.
- Adverb- She didn’t come before.
- Preposition- Several bikes were parked all along the road.
- Adverb- I was just walking along, chatting.
- Preposition- The cat jumped off the table.
- Adverb- He runs off with (= taken) my watch.
- Preposition- There is someone in the garden.
- Adverb- They are staying in tonight.
- Preposition- He is inside the room.
- Adverb- I think he is inside.
3 Types of Preposition with Definition and Examples
Simple Preposition Definition with Example in English
Simple prepositions are single-word prepositions that describe the relationship between two words. A simple preposition is usually combined with other words (a noun, pronoun, or noun phrase) to make a prepositional phrase. Common simple prepositions are (in, on, at, till, to, for, out, etc.)
- We play cricket in the morning.
- We go to that hotel at noon for lunch.
- He is not going with us.
Compound Preposition Definition and Examples
When a prefix is added to a noun, an adjective, or an adverb to form prepositions, such prepositions are called compound prepositions.
Common compound prepositions are (above, across, along, around, before, behind, below, beside, between, inside, underneath, without, etc.)
Phrase Preposition Definition and Examples
These prepositions are a group of words that work as a single-word preposition. Examples of phrase prepositions are
- along with
- by means of
- according to
- in case of
- by virtue of
- conformably to
- because of
- in course of
- on account of
- in spite of
- in comparison to
- in place of
- in favour of
- in front of
- in reference to
- in regard to