What is Preposition in English Grammar?
A preposition is a word or group of words that show the relationship between a noun and other words in the sentence. It is one of the Parts of Speech.
It also shows the relationship between a pronoun and other words in the sentence.
The name “Preposition” means “before position”. That means these words are placed before the noun or pronoun in the sentence.
Most commonly used prepositions are in, on, under, to, by, above, below, up, down, for, with, etc.
It includes various relationships like,
- Direction (Where?)
- Time (When?)
- Place (Where?)
- Location (Where?)
- Space (Where?)
Now, let us understand with few example sentences.
Reference Topic: What are the Parts of Speech? (8 Parts of Speech examples)
Examples of Prepositions
The Prepositions are mentioned in blue colour in the below examples.
- The book is on the table.
In the above example, there are two nouns. One is “book” and the other one is “table”.
Here, the preposition (on) is showing the relation between two nouns by mentioning the positions.
- I am having a meeting at 5 pm.
In the above example, the preposition (at) is used between the Pronoun (I) and noun (meeting).
It is showing the relation for time.
- The cat is sleeping under the tree.
Here, the preposition (under) is used between the nouns (cat and tree). So, it shows the relations with the positions.
- The boy is hiding behind the wall.
Here, the preposition (behind) is used to show the relationship between the boy and the wall. The location is used as a reference.
- She is working at home.
Here, the preposition (at) is used to refer to the location that she is working.
Types of Prepositions
Till now we have read and understood what is a preposition (with few examples). Now let us classify all the Prepositions separately according to the usage.
So, there are 5 types of Prepositions. Those are,
- Preposition of Time
- Preposition of Place
- Preposition of Direction
- Preposition of Agent
- Prepositions of Instruments
Preposition of Time
These type of Prepositions (words) are used to refer to time with various aspects. For example on, in, at, etc.
In: “In” preposition is used while mentioning the time with months or years.
On: “On” preposition is used while mentioning the particular time of a day, month or year.
At: “At” preposition is used while mentioning the past or future time.
- I am having an interview at 9 PM.
- My birthday is on 25th May.
- I was excited on the first day of my job.
- World War 2 was started in the year 1939.
- She came to our house at night.
Preposition of Place
These Prepositions (words) are used to refer to time with various aspects. For example on, in, at, etc.
In: “In” preposition is used when the object (person or thing) is in the physical boundary (place).
On: “On” preposition is used for the objects which are on the surface.
At: “At” preposition is used to mention the specific place of the object.
- I am working as a Software Developer at Google.
- The children are playing in the park.
- He is living in a luxurious house.
- He is completing his homework at home.
- Her book is on the bench.
Preposition of Direction
These prepositions are used to specify the direction of the object. For example into, to, through, towards, etc.
Into: “Into” preposition is used when an object (into) is present inside something physically.
To: “To” preposition is used to represent the direction of movement or place of arrival.
Through: “Through” preposition is used when an object moves from one end to another.
Towards: “Towards” preposition is used to represent the specific direction.
- I am going to school.
- She went into her room to collect her car keys.
- They are sailing towards the coast of Africa.
- We need to go through many failures to get success.
- Raju tossed a coin into the air.
Preposition of Agent
The prepositions which are used for expressing the relationship between a noun and a verb is known as Preposition of Agent. For example by, with etc.
By: “By” preposition is used to mention the action is done (doer) by the Subject.
With: “With” preposition is used to mention two or more things (or) people are involved in doing something.
- Alex shared his work with his friend.
- He wants to do business along with his job.
- The famous series Harry Potter was written by J.K. Rowling.
- He likes to have bread with butter in it.
- They want to earn money by selling old items.
Preposition of Instruments
These type of Prepositions are used to indicate certain technologies, machines or devices. For example by, with, on, with the help of, etc.
Actually, “by” refers to the mode of transportation, whereas “with” and “on” is used to mention the usage of machines and other machines.
- I came to college by bus.
- She likes to listen to online music with her phone.
- Riya washed her clothes with the help of a Washing machine.
- The guests are coming to our house by taxi.
- The thief broke the lock with the help of a hammer.
Preposition as a word (or) group of words
As we discussed before, a Preposition can be a word or group of words in a sentence. So, these are broadly classified into 5 types based on the functionalities. Those are,
- Simple Preposition
- Double Preposition
- Compound Preposition
- Participle Preposition
- Phrase Preposition
A single preposition word used in the sentence is known as a Simple Preposition. For example in, on, for, with, above, below, along, etc.
This preposition is used to describe a location, time or place.
- I usually wake up early in the morning.
- My house is located near Railway Station.
- Micheal’s mom prepared rice with curry for lunch.
- Riya is not going to college today.
- John went to the park at 5 AM.
Two preposition words that are used in the sentence are known as Double Preposition. For example into, upon, onto, from within, out of, ahead of, close to, due to, next to, etc.
These prepositions are used to describe the direction.
- She can’t see properly without her glasses.
- The cat climbed onto the table.
- Team A is 2 goals ahead of Team B in the football match.
- The cricket match was halted due to rain.
- A tall man was standing next to me.
Note: The prepositions of this type can be in separate (or) combined form.
Compound Preposition contains two or more preposition words. These are also called “Complex Preposition”. So, it is used to describe the location.
For example in addition to, in the middle of, on behalf of, in front of, etc.
- Micheal gave a presentation on behalf of the organisation.
- My house is located in front of the local Post Office.
- He speaks Hindi in addition to English.
- Shaun behaved rudely in front of everyone.
- My phone stopped working while I am in the middle of a conversation with my friend.
Participle Prepositions are those prepositions that end with “-ed”, “-en” or “ing”. For example, during, considering, provided, excluding, following, pending, etc.
These are usually principles that are used as Prepositions.
- Ritu works during the day and studies at night.
- According to the weather forecast, it will be sunny today.
- The teacher questioned a student regarding his behaviour.
- They play football during the holidays.
- The salaries aren’t paid and are still pending.
Phrase Prepositions (or Prepositional Phrases) contains a preposition, an object and any modifier (optional) in the sentence.
For example on time, at home, on the floor, before class, etc.
- Try to be on time for tomorrow’s event.
- Shaun found his lost book under the table.
- He is watching TV at home.
- The children stopped playing after the heavy rain.
- Henry left muddy footprints on the clean floor.
Quiz Time! (Test your knowledge here)
#1. Which type of preposition is used for the sentence, "They are going to the office"?
#2. "Rishi is ordering food with the help of his smartphone". Identify the correct type of preposition used.
Answer: Preposition of Instrument.
#3. Identify the Simple Preposition from the below options.
Reason: onto = on to (Double Preposition)
into = in to (Double Preposition)
for = for (Single/Simple Preposition)
without = with out (Double Preposition)
#4. Phrase Preposition contains a preposition, an object and any modifier.
#5. "Mangoes are only available during the Summer Season". Which type of preposition is the word "during" in the sentence?
Answer: Participle Preposition.
Reason: “during” is the preposition that ends with “-ing”. So, it is a Participle Preposition.
#6. Is the preposition "outside" a Double Preposition?
#7. Which of the following is not a Compound Preposition?
Answer: The word “without” is not a Compound Preposition.
#8. "He is usually nervous to perform ___ the stage". Choose the appropriate preposition for the given sentence.
Answer: He is usually nervous to perform on the stage. (Preposition of Place)
#9. "This great painting was done by Micheal". Which type of preposition is used?
Answer: Preposition of Agent.
#10. Fill in the blank with correct preposition. "Raju started his business ___ the year 1990".
Answer: Raju started his business in the year 1990. (Preposition of Time)
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Summary: (What is Preposition in English Grammar?)
So, here are some key points that explain the overall topic that we have learnt till now.
- A preposition is one of the important topics in English Grammar because it shows the relationship between noun or pronoun with other words in the sentence.
- For the example above, across, on, to, for, with, by, in case of, near, etc.
- It covers various aspects like place, direction, location, etc.
- Prepositions are divided into 5 types. Those are preposition of time, place, direction, agent and instruments.
- Again Prepositions are classified into 5 types based on the structure. Those are Simple, Double, Compound, Participle and Phrase Prepositions.
If you are interested to learn more, then you can refer to Wikipedia from here.
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