Preposition: What Is a Preposition? Types and Rules of Prepositions

A preposition is an integral component of the English language that establishes the link between a noun or pronoun in a sentence and the rest of the sentence. A preposition precedes a noun or pronoun in a sentence. In no circumstances should a verb follow a preposition?


What Is a Preposition?

A preposition is a word or phrase that precedes a pronoun, noun, or noun phrase to indicate time, location, direction, spatial relationships, and place. Examples of prepositions include on, of, in, at, to, etc.

Preposition Rules

Prepositions are some of the most used words in the English language. However, many people misuse them without even noticing. Prepositions have their own rules, and to use them correctly, you need to master the rules governing their usage. The following rules will help you to have an insight into prepositions and how to use them correctly.

A Preposition Must Contain an Object

It’s a requirement for a preposition to have an object. If a preposition lacks an object, it ceases to be a preposition; instead, it is treated as an adverb. A preposition typically features an object. An adverb does not have an object. Examples in sentences:

  • He is in the bathroom. (preposition in has the object the bathroom)
  • There was a pit hole before me. (preposition before has the object me)

Pre-position Means Place Before

The name “preposition” shows that a preposition typically precedes something (its object):

  • I placed it on the table. (preposition on comes before the object the table)

A Pronoun Coming After a Preposition Should Be in Object Form

The pronoun or noun that comes after a preposition forms a prepositional object. For pronouns, they should be in the objective and not subjective form.

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  • This is from my daughter and me.
  • Jason surrendered it to them.
  • That’s between him and her.

Preposition Forms

Prepositions have no definite form. Many prepositions constitute one-word, but others contain two- or three-word phrases referred to as complex prepositions.

One-word preposition: in at, on

Complex prepositions: on account of, according to, in spite of

To Preposition and To Infinitive Are Different

Don’t mistake the infinitive particle “to” (to praise, to reside) with the preposition “to” (to Washington, to them)

The Golden Preposition Rule

A preposition precedes a noun and not a verb.

Types of Prepositions

Prepositions are classified into five categories: Simple, double, compound, participle, and phrase. Let’s look at each one of them in detail.

Simple Preposition

A preposition constituting one word is known as a single or simple preposition.

Examples: in, on, of, at, to, after, from, with, over, till, etc.

Double Preposition

This refers to a preposition composed of more than one word.

Examples: up to, into, within, and more.

Compound Preposition

These are prepositions comprising two or more words.

Examples: from across, on behalf of, in front of, according to, etc.

Participle Preposition

These are prepositions made up of words that end in “ing.”

Examples: concerning, regarding, considering, barring, etc.

Phrase Preposition

These are set of words used with the force of a simple preposition.

Examples: in order to, in front of, owing to, instead of, by virtue of, by means of, etc.

List of Prepositions

Below is the list of prepositions that we often see.

  • Without
  • Within
  • With
  • Upon
  • Up to
  • Up
  • Until
  • Under
  • Towards
  • To
  • Throughout
  • Since
  • Plus
  • Past
  • Over
  • Out
  • Onto
  • On
  • Off
  • Of
  • Near
  • Like
  • Into
  • Including
  • In
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Prepositional Phrases

Here is the prepositional phrase list that you should learn.

  • Out of step
  • Out of print
  • Out of jealousy
  • Out of fashion
  • Out of curiosity
  • Out of control
  • Out of context
  • Out of breath
  • On watch
  • On the road
  • On the record
  • On the air
  • On schedule
  • On pain of
  • On oath
  • On balance
  • On a journey
  • On a diet
  • In time
  • In of focus
  • In demand
  • In arrears
  • In anticipation of
  • In answer to
  • In an uproar

Prepositions | Infographic


Last Updated on August 3, 2023

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