Mind the underlined words in the following sentences:

The book is on the table.

God is in heaven.

We work with our hands.

Mind that each of the underlined italicized words in the above sentences is placed before a noun and shows its relationship with other nouns within the sentence. These words are called prepositions. (‘Preposition’ means ‘that which is placed before.)

A preposition is a word that is placed before a noun or Pronoun and shows its relation with some other Noun or Pronoun within the sentence.

There are a number of Prepositions in English, such as: in, on, into, by, with, at, below, to, for, after, before, till, until, off,  beyond, above, about, against, from etc.


The Prepositions may be classified, as:

1. Prepositions of Place: The Prepositions which express the relationship in place or space are called prepositions of Place. Some Prepositions of Place are: in, on, over, up, into, upon, across etc.

2. Prepositions of Time: The Prepositions of Time express the relations in time. Some Prepositions of Time are: at, on, before, after, till, until etc.

3. Simple Prepositions: in, on, by, for, to, from etc.

4. Compound Prepositions: inside (in+side), outside (out+side), within (with+in),  upto (up+to) etc.

5. Prepositional Phrase: in front of, on account of, in spite of, on behalf of,  by virtue of, with a view to,  in the face of, by means of etc.

6. Participle Prepositions: The Participle Prepositions are made up of present or past participle form of verbs to be used as Preposition, as: considering, regarding, respecting, touching etc.


As a general rule, a Preposition is placed before a Noun or a Pronoun, but in the following cases it is placed at the end of a sentence:

(a) The Preposition is always placed at the end of a sentence if the Object is the Relative Pronoun ‘that’:

Here is the pen that you asked for.

This is the house that Mathew often talked of.

(b) The Preposition is placed at the end, if its Object is an Interrogative Pronoun, as:

Which of these benches did you sit on? 

What are you laughing at?

(c)The Preposition is placed at the end, if its object is an Interrogative Pronoun understood, as:

That is the boy (whom) we were speaking of.

(d) Sometimes the Preposition is placed at the end for the sake of emphasis, as:

He is known all the world over.

This he insists on.

(e) The Preposition is placed at the end of a sentence with an Infinitive of Purpose, as:

This is the pen to write with.

This is the chair to sit on.

Here is the cup to drink with.


The uses of some important Prepositions are illustrated below:

1. At, in, on:

‘At’ is used to denote a small place or a point of time. ‘In’ denotes a large place or a period of time. ‘On’ is used to denote day or date.

Mr. Kakati lives at Barpeta.

Dr Saxena lives in Delhi.

He was born in June.

Harsha will return on Sunday.

He went there at 8 o’clock.

2. By, With:

‘By’ is used with the agent and ‘with’ is used with an instrument:

The tiger was killed by Jim Corbett with a gun.

We work with our hands.

The sum was solved by Rana.

3. Between, Among:

‘Between’ refers to only two persons or things while ‘among’ refers to more than two:

Divide the mangoes between Ram and Radha.

Distribute the marbles among the boys.

4. In, into:

‘In’ denotes position inside while ‘into’ denotes motion from outside to a place inside:

Dr Lalita is in her office.

We saw a rabbit running into the forest.

They had had their supper and went into the Theatre Hall.

5. Of, from:

‘Of’ or ‘from’ is used before the name of a substance from which a thing is made. ‘Of’ is used if the substance remains unchanged and if the substance is changed then ‘from’ is used.

Butter is made from milk.

The table is made of wood.

Wine is made from grapes.

Flour is made from wheat.

6. In, On, To:

‘In’ denotes within the boundary, ‘On’ on the boundary and ‘To’ beyond or outside the boundary.

The Arabali is in the South of India.

The Himalayas are on the north of India.

Srilanka is to the south of India.

7. Beside, Besides:

‘Besdie’ means by the side of. ‘Besides’ denotes in addition to.

The girl sat beside me.

Besides shelter, they provided me with a job.

Besides being a good singer, Tapash is  a story-teller.

8. For, Since, From:

‘For’ refers to a period of time. Both ‘Since’ and ‘For’ refer to a point of time. ‘Since’ is used in the Present Perfect and Present Perfect Continuous tense and in reference to past time only. But ‘From’ is used in any form of tense and in reference to Present, Past or Future time. ‘For’ is used in any form of tenses.

It rained for three hours.

The work begins from Friday.

My brother will stay here for a week.

Sabina has been ill since Monday last.

Hiren was ill for a fortnight.

9. After, In, Within:

‘After’ is used to denote a period of past time. ‘In’ refers to a period of Future time and ‘Within’ denotes before the end of a period of Future time.

My cousin returned home after three months.

He went there after Ram had left the place.

He will come back in an hour.

I shall return the book within a week.

The boys will come here within three days.

10. On, Over:

On denotes physical contact while Over does not indicate physical contact:

The box is on the table.

The birds are flying over our heads.

11. ‘Across’ is used to mean ‘from one side to the opposite:

The bridge is across the river Yamuna.

The temple is across the field.

12. After is used to mean sequence in time, place, effect:

I shall do the sum after you teach me.

The bus arrived afternoon.

I am pleased with you only after you have done this.

13. ‘Against’ is used to mean opposition of some kind or provision for comparison:

The leaders stood against the decision of the members.

We must stand against the injustice done to the minorities.

14. Along is used to mean lengthwise. It is contrary to ‘across’:

We roamed about along the riverside.

The forest lies along the National High Road.

15. ‘Around’ or ‘Round’ is used to mean something circling round or nearness.

The students stood around the Principal.

They may come around midnight.

16. ‘Behind’ is used to indicate at the back of, lateness. It is contrary to ‘before’:

The soldiers are marching behind the Captain.

The bus will arrive behind the scheduled time.

17. ‘Below’ is used to mean at a lower point or less than.

The members of the party will be below fifteen.

18. ‘Beneath’ is used to mean lower position or under:

The box was kept below the heaps of sands.

The purse was found beneath the pile of books.

19. ‘But’ is used to mean except.

He was all but dead.

None but Rajen was present.

20. ‘By’ means nearness of some kind:

Please stand by me.

She sat by me.

21. ‘Down’ means lower or descent of some kind:

Water flows down the hills.

He came down the street.

22. ‘For’ is used to mean a direction in space, time, cause and reason:

I started for my office earlier than usual.

He was punished for his misdeed.

23. ‘From’ denotes motion in space, time, source etc. 

I shall join them from Monday next.

The poor boy is begging from door to door.

24. ‘Off’ is used to mean separation at a near distance:

We got off the train.

The ships sailed off the harbour.

25. ‘Through’ is used to mean across the interior of something:

The Ganges flows through Northern India.

26. ‘Towards’ refers to in the direction of something or some place:

They are walking towards the Great Temple.

Mr Kakati is very generous towards the poor.

27. ‘Under’ denotes rest or motion in a lower place:

The ruined ship is now under the sea.

They are sitting under the banyan tree.

28. ‘Within’ denotes inside the limits of anything:

He will return within an hour.

Put the verbs within brackets.


There are some Prepositions that are used to express various meanings. Some of such Prepositions are illustrated below:

1. About:

(i) to mean nearness:

He sits about the door.

(ii) to mean almost:

He is about to come.

(iii) to mean connection:

He narrated everything about the incident.

(iv) to mean every side:

We looked about some honey.

2. Above:

(i) to mean  at a higher point than:

The eagle flies above the hills.

(ii) to mean the highest point:

His conduct is above doubt.

(iii) to mean more than:

This will cost above a hundred rupees.

3. After:

(i) to denote later in time:

Haren went there after Jahu.

(ii) to mean purpose:

The police run after the thief.

(iii) to mean likeness:

The baby takes after its father.

4. Against:

(i) to mean touch, connection:

The boy stood against the wall.

(ii) to mean opposition:

The members of the Club stood against the President.

(iii) to denote preparation:

Save something against the rainy days.

5. At:

(i) to denote place:

He lives at Shanti Kutir.

(ii) to denote time:

He will arrive here at 7 o’clock.

(iii) to mean destination or direction:

They arrived at the station.

(iv) to mean price:

Rice sells at twenty-five rupees a kilogram.

6. By:

(i) to indicate nearness:

Please sit by me.

(ii) to mean ‘before’

He will be back by 5 o’clock.

(iii) to mean duration:

We sleep by night.

(iv) to mean means:

Please send the books by post.

(v) to mean measure:

Rice sells by kilogram.

Paper sells by weight.

(vi) to mean agency:

‘The Tintern Abbey’ was written by William Wordsworth.

7. For:

(i) to mean duration in time:

He had been there for a month.

(ii) to mean cause:

He was fined for misdeed.

(iii) to mean Purpose:

Walking is good for health.

(iv) to mean ‘in favour of’:

He works for his family.

(v) to mean ‘in spite of’:

For all his money he was unhappy.

8. From:

(i) to mean source:

The Brahmaputra rises from the Himalayas.

(ii) to mean reason:

He died from overwork.

(iii) to mean motive:

She did it from gratitude.

9. In:

(i) to indicate place:

He lives in Port Blair.

(ii) to indicate time:

He will come back in an hour.

(ii) to mean state, condition:

Rama is in good health.

(iii) to indicate manner:

They went there in haste.

10. Of:

(i) to mean possession:

Tapash is the owner of the building.

(ii) to indicate reference:

He did not know anything of the incident.

(iii) to indicate element:

The table is made of fine-wood.

(iv) to mean cause:

She died of Cholera.

(v)to mean origin:

He came of a noble family.

11. On:

(i) to mean conduct:

Put the box on the shelf.

(ii) to mean situation:

Guwahati is on the bank of the Brahmaputra.

(iii) to indicate day:

I shall be back on Friday.

(iii) to mean ‘in accordance with’:

He sought a leave of absence on the medical cause.

(iv) to mean ‘because of’:

I am much happy on your success.

(v) to mean connection, concern:

Dr. Nayek spoke on comparative religion.

(vi) to mean state of condition:

I am on good terms with Rajesh.

12. To:

(i) to indicate motion:

We went to school.

(ii) to indicate towards:

We have duties to our country.

(ii) Purpose:

We invited Robert to the dinner.

(iv) to mean result:

The auditorium was crowded to suffocation.

The glass is broken to pieces.

(v) to mean adaptation:

This novel is to my taste.

(vi) to mean limit:

The soldiers fought to the last.

(vii) to mean ratio:

The chance of passing the test is ten to three.

(viii) to mean relation:

Hari is the president to the organization.

(ix) to mean offer:

I give the book to Sita. 0 0 0.




1. Fill in the gaps with correct prepositions:

(i) Rekha was born …………..2011. (ii) He is …………….. the garden now. (iii) He came …………… 6. p.m. (iv) Rajib came ………… a well-to-do family. (v) We work ……………… day. (vi) Guwahati stands ………….the bank of the Brahmaputra. (vii) The police ran …………… the thief. (viii) Seema filled the bucket …………. milk. (ix) The teacher caught the boy …………… the neck. (x) He is ………….. need of money. (xi) Raghab is a friend ………. the poor. (xii) Hima was absent ………….. a month. (xiii)He came here ………. Friday last. (xiv) The ox was tied …………….. a rope. (xv) Many friends came …….. see her. (xvi) ………….. which year was Hari born? (xvii) He cut his throat ………. a knife. (xviii) He had been here …………….. long time. (xix)We will stay …………. Delhi ……… a week. (xx) We spend our Summer Vacation …………….. Dhaka. (xxi) Mathew is late ……………… school. (xxii) Hira is sitting …………… Rina. (xxiii) What is the time ………. your watch? (xiv) We go to school ……….. foot. (xxv)  He was standing ………….. the hall. (xxvi) The battle was fought ………. Haldighat. (xxvii) Cowards are afraid ………….. death.

2. Fill in the blanks with correct Prepositions:

(i)We stood …… a tree. (ii)He sailed ………….. French. (iiii) Milk is good …………… children. (iv) Raja pulled Rani …………the leg. (v) He is looking ……….. the tiger. (vii) He is blind ……. one eye. (viii) We sit …… a chair. (ix) He is lame …………. one leg. (x) He voted ………. me. (xi) We sleep …………. night. (xii) Cut the bread ………. knife. (xiii) He came …………. 5. o’clock ………… the morning ……. Saturday last. (xiv)A bird flew …… our head. (xv)Write a paragraph ……… the use of computer. (xvi) We write ………… pen. (xvii) Who are you writing ……..? (xviii)We swore ……… God. (xix) It is now eleven ………. clock. (xx) His hat was …….. his head. (xxi) Write ……… the lesson. (xxii) Fight it ………. (xxiii) Cheer him …………… (xxiv) He ran ………. cliff. (xxv)Prices are ……….reach. (xxvi) She took them ………. the bridge. (xxvii) Please caste your vote ……… (xxviii) Put ……… the lamp. (xxix) Find ……… the truth. (xxx) The cup is to drink milk ………… 0 0 0


N.B.  The article ‘Preposition’ originally belongs to the book ‘School English Grammar Part- I‘ by Menonim Menonimus.

Books of Composition by M. Menonimus:

  1. Advertisement Writing
  2. Amplification Writing
  3. Note Making
  4. Paragraph Writing
  5. Notice Writing
  6. Passage Comprehension
  7. The Art of Poster Writing
  8. The Art of Letter Writing
  9. Report Writing
  10. Story Writing
  11. Substance Writing
  12. School Essays Part-I
  13. School Essays Part-II
  14. School English Grammar Part-I
  15. School English Grammar Part-II..

Books on Linguistics by M. Menonimus:

  1. A Brief History of the English Language
  2. Essays on Linguistics
  3. My Imageries
  4. Felicitous Expression: Some Examples
  5. Learners’ English Dictionary

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I am Menonim Menonimus, a Philosopher & Writer.


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