Prepositions in English


It is very important you master the prepositions in English.

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If you really understand them, and use them correctly, your reading, listening, speaking and writing will greatly improve.

A preposition is a word which is used before a noun to show its connection to another word in the sentence.

Prepositions of place

Prepositions of place help us understand where something is.

The easiest way to explain the basic prepositions of place is to use pictures:

The man is on the skateboard.

The man is on the skateboard.


The man is putting plates on the table.

The man is putting plates on the table.


The man is under the table.

The man is under the table.


The eggs are in the pot.

The eggs are in the pot.


The coffee is in the mug.

The coffee is in the mug.


TriangleCircleSquare
Triangle Circle Square
 
  • The triangle is next to the circle.
  • The circle is between the triangle and the square.
  • The square is next to the circle.
  • The triangle is on the left.
  • The square is on the right.
  • The circle is in the center

The man is on top of the building.
I hope he doesn't fall off the roof!

The man is on top of the building.


The men are opposite each other.
They are pointing at each other.

The men are opposite each other.


The criminal is behind the bars.
He is in prison.

The criminal is behind the bars.


The teacher is in front of the board.
She is drawing on the board.
The board is on the wall.
She has a piece of chalk in her left hand.

The teacher is in front of the board.

What's the appropriate preposition to use?

Click here for the lesson on Prepositions of Time: At, In, or On?

Sometimes, particular words need certain prepositions of place.

For example:
  • You get on or off a plane, a bus, or a train, but you get in (to) or out (of) a car.

  • People sit on a chair, at a desk. 

  • They talk on the telephone. 

  • They look at a clock, which may be on the wall.

There is no easy way to remember prepositions, as it is one area of English where the rules seem very irregular.

The best way to learn them is in phrases. When you find a new word that needs a preposition with it, you need to remember the preposition with the word.

It is a great idea to note down prepositions in your vocabulary notebook, along with any nouns or verbs that always go with them.

If you remember pictures easily then draw pictures to help you.

Move things around and repeat where they are.

Test your friends and classmates, and have them test you.

These are all great ways to help you remember prepositions in English.

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