What are prepositions?

Prepositions are a class of words that indicate relationships between nouns, pronouns and other words in a sentence. Most often they come before a noun. They never change their form, regardless of the case, gender etc. of the word they are referring to. 

There are three types of prepositions.

1. Time Prepositions - Time prepositions define time. 

 Example      in at on for during while …

2.Place Propositions - Place prepositions clarify the place someone or somebody.

 Example      in on at near over above under below …

3.Direction Prepositions - Direction prepositions are used to clarify the direction of someone or something.

 Example      under over right left at to up…

Preposition Rule

There is one very simple rule about prepositions. And, unlike most rules, this rule has no exceptions.

1. The prepositions usually comes before the noun.

2. Prepositions can be used with all forms of nouns. 

・noun (dog, money, love)
・proper noun (name) (Bangkok, Mary)
・pronoun (you, him, us)
・noun group (my first job)
・gerund (swimming)

3. Prepositions can't come after a verb, but can be used before a gerund or verb in noun form.

4. The rules above do not change and there are no exceptions to the rules.

 Place Prepositions 

 Prepositions of place are used to clarify a specific place. Place prepositions are used with all nouns. The preposition usually comes before the noun or the pronoun. The preposition never comes before a verb.

 in - at - on (Place) 

 At   for a POINT, EVENT, TABLE… 

-"at" Is usually used to state something or someone is at a specific place.

・next to
・by an object
・for table
・for events
・place where you are to do something typical (watch a film, study, work)


・at home
・at work
・at school
・at the top
・at the side
・at the table


・room, building, street, town, country
・book, paper etc.
・car, taxi
・picture, world

"In" Is usually used to state that someone or something is in a (the boundaries can be physical or virtual place.


・in the city
・in the box
・in the park
・in the car
・in London
・in the world
・in the picture

 On   for a SURFACE 

・for a place with a river
・being on a surface
・for a certain side (left, right)
・for a floor in a house
・for public transport
・for television, radio

"On" Is usually used to state someone or something is on top of a surface. 


・on the table
・on the floor
・on the wall
・on the left
・on the bus
・on a plane
・on TV
・on the radio

Prepositions of Place

aboard - She is aboard the boat.

above - The picture is above the sofa.

across - My house is across the street.

against - The desk is against the wall.

around - My house is around the block.

at - Is your house at the end of the street.

at the back of - We are going to sit at the back of the theater.

at the bottom of - The coins are at the bottom of the lake.

at the top of - The books are at the top of the shelves.

between - We sit between the two boys.

behind - The girls sit behind the two boys.

below - The desk is below the window

by - The books are by the door.

in - I live in the big green and white house.

inside - I live inside the big green house.

on the corner of - We live on the corner of 3rd avenue

in the middle of - We live in the middle of the street.

near - I don't live near the supermarket.

next to - I live next to my best friend.

to the left of - The blue box is to the left of the green box.

to the right of - The orange box is to the right of the yellow box.

on - The sun heater is on the top of the building.

on the side of - There is a big sign on the side of the house.

on top of - There is a man on the top of the roof.

on the other side of - Do you see what is going on over there on the other side of the roof?

opposite - The post office is on the opposite side of the street.

outside - The car is outside the garage.

under - The blanket is under the bed in a box..

underneath - The pen is underneath the box.

 Time Prepositions  

 Time prepositions are used to define time. Prepositions usually come before a noun or pronoun. Prepositions never come after a verb. 

 at - in - on (Time) 


1.for night
2.for weekend
3.a certain point of time (when?)


・at night (NOT in night)
・at the weekend
・at half past nine
・at 2:00
・at lunchtime
・at Christmas
・at noon
・at sunrise


1.months / seasons
2.time of day
4.after a certain period of time (when?)


・in August
・in winter
・in the morning
・in 2006
・in an hour
・in the next century
・in the Ice Age
・in the past/future

 On  for DAYS and DATES

1.days of the week


・on Monday
・on 6 March
・on Christmas Day
・on Independence Day
・on my birthday
・on New Year's Eve


Notice the use of the prepositions of time in and on in these common expressions:

When we say last, next, every, this we do not also use at, in, on.


・I went to London last June. (not in last June)
・He's coming back next Tuesday. (not on next Tuesday)
・I go home every Easter. (not at every Easter)
・We'll call you this evening. (not in this evening)

Prepositions of TIME

after - I will be there after work.

around - We will be there around 3 PM

before - I will be there before I go to school.

between - I will be there

by - I will be there by the time that you leave for work.

during - I will be there during your class.

for - I will be there for your birthday.

past - I wasn't there for the past 2 months.

since - I didn't see her since I was 10 years old.

until - I will not be home until 7:00 PM.

within - I will be there within

 Direction Prepositions  

 Prepositions that express movement toward something are toonto, and into.
 Toonto, and into can be defined in the same way as at, in, and on (which explain the relationships of point, surface, area and volume.

 To - Into - Onto (Place) 

 To    signifies orientation toward a goal

1.When the goal is physical, such as a destination, "to" implies movement in the direction of the goal.

The preposition to is used as an ordinary preposition with verbs of communication such as listen, speak, relate (as in telling someone something), appeal (meaning 'pleading', not as in 'be attractive to')

Verbs of communication:

listenspeak (but not tell), relate, appeal (in the sense of 'plead,' not 'be attractive')

Verbs of movement:

move, go, transfer, walk, run, swim, ride, drive, fly, travel


All these verbs (except transfer) can be used with toward, as well as with toBe awarethat "tosuggests movement toward a specific point, and "toward" suggestsmovement in a general direction without actually arriving at a specific goal or destination. 


・Let’s walk toward the park.
(Walk in the direction of the park; we may or may not arrive there.)

・Brandon drove toward the seaside.
(He was going in that direction, but he may not actually go there at all.)

・Drive toward the city limits and turn north.
(Drive in the direction of the city limits; turnoff may be before arriving there.)

・Take me to the airport, please.
(I actually want to arrive at the airport.)


・I like going to Australia.
・Can you come to me?
・I've never been to Africa.

2.If the goal is not an actual place, but is an action or a thought, to is used with another verb in the infinitive form and expresses purpose (in order to).

・We cleaned the house to prepare for the reception.
(We cleaned in order to prepare for the reception.)

Both meanings of the word to can be used in the same sentence:
・Paul went to(1) Lucy’s house to(2) deliver the gift.
(Lucy’s house is the physical destination, and Paul's purpose is in order to deliver the gift'.)

Verb + to + infinitive 

Verbs in this group express willingness, desire, intention, or obligation. (to walk, to think, to eat, etc.) 

Willingness: be willing, consent, refuse

Desire: desire, want, wish, like, ask, request, prefer

Intention: intend, plan, prepare

Obligation: be obligated, have, need


・We flew from New York to(1) Paris to(2) see our father.

・I will agree to let you join us. (I am willing to allow you to be with us.)

・She plans to leave on Saturday. (Her intent is to leave on that day.)

・Ronnie wanted to have a leave of absence from work. (He desired time off from work.)

・Annie had to teach when CC was ill. (Annie was obligated to teach.)

ON + TO onto: signifies movement toward a surface

IN + TO into: signifies movement toward the interior of a volume

("To" is part of the directional preposition toward, and the two mean about the same thing.)

The other two prepositions of direction are compounds formed by adding to: on + to = onto: signifies movement toward the top of a surface; in + to = into: signifies movement toward the interior of something. With some action verbs, on and in have a directional meaning and may also be used, but not in every instance. 


・Shawn climbed in/into the bathtub.
(Both in and into are correct. Choose one.)

The difference between the compound prepositions into and onto and the simple prepositions in and on is that the compound prepositions indicate the completion of an action, and the simple prepositions show the position of the subject as a result of that action. 


Patricia fell onto the ground. (completion of the action of falling)
Patricia is on the ground. (position of Patricia)

Mario jumped into the river. (completion of the action jumped)
Mario is in the river. (position of Mario)

 Onto, On  signifies movement toward a surface

ON + TO 

1.With verbs of motion, onto and on are usually interchangeable.

・Daniel bounced on/onto the floor.
・Peter climbed on/onto the fence.


Some motion verbs indicate that the subject causes itself or some other object to be located in a specific place. Some of these verbs can only be used with on. Others can be used with both on and onto. There are also times when the word "add" is used alone, or used with the word to.


・The cat landed on its feet after the fall. (not onto its feet)

・Louis hung his pants on the line to dry. (not onto the line)

・Dick spilled the soup on his shirt. (not onto his shirt)

・Heather threw her coat on/onto the bed.

・The birds scattered the seeds that had fallen on/onto the ground.

・They are adding another employee at the factory.

・She wants to add to the wedding invitation list.

・"Your behavior is adding to my stress," warned Mother.

・I would like to have one more room added to/onto the house.

Simple prepositions can combine with verbs, but compound prepositions cannot!

2.With verbs showing a stationary positionon or in are used as the ordinary meanings of those prepositions.


・The car is in the driveway.
・The cat is in the garage
・William is in the barn.
・Megan is on the couch.
・Pete is on the ladder.
・The newspaper is on the table.

3.There are other verb/preposition combinations which mean "continuing or resuming an action" when they are used in an imperative sentence.
 These combinations are used only with onexcept for hang, which takes both on andonto.
 Some of these combinations are idiomatic. 
・hang on (or onto = continue to grasp tightly)
・carry on = continue/resume doing what you were doing
・dream on = continue dreaming
・lead on = continue/resume leading us. 

 Into, In   signifies movement toward the interior of a volume


Remember that into shows completion of an action, in shows the position of the object as a result of an action.

・Connie put the vase into the sink. The vase is in the sink.
・Harriet threw her coat into the closet. Her coat is in the closet.
・The chef put the soup bones into the pot. The bones are in the pot.

1.With verbs expressing motion, into and in are may be used interchangeably except 

a)when the preposition is the last word in the sentence

b)when it comes directly in front of an adverbial.
(An adverbial or an adverbial clause provides information about when, why, or how something happens).
In those cases, only in is correct.


・Don went into the library.
・Don went in. (not intobecause in is the last word in the sentence)
・They drove into the garage at 6 p.m.
・They drove in yesterday. (yesterday is an adverbial showing when, so in is the correct preposition to use.)


Into may be used as the last word (with the exception of the adverbial) in a question that asks who, when, what about the subject.


・What sort of mess has the dog gotten into now? (now is an adverbial showing when)

・Now, what sort of mess did the dog get in?

2.Using in or into with the verb move

a)move in followed by a clause showing reason or purpose that indicates approaching. Move in is a phrasal verb and is sometimes an idiom. 

・The patrol moved in to report artillery positions.
・The gangsters moved in to take over the town.

b)When into is used with move, it's used as an ordinary preposition and means moving something from one place to another: 

・She moved all her clothes into a different closet.

・Let’s move into the living room where we can be more comfortable. (simply means 'go')

・We will move into the new house by the end of the month. (bring all belongings and take possession of t・he house.)

Prepositions of Direction

above higher than something.
across   from one side to the other side
after    one follows the other
against   directed towards something.
along   in a line; from one point to another
among   in a group
around   in a circular way
behind   at the back of
below     lower than something.
beside    next to
between   something/somebody is on each side
by    near
close to  near
down   from high to low
from  the place where it starts
in front of  the part that is in the direction it faces
inside  opposite of outside
into  entering something.
near  close to
next to  beside
off  away from something.
onto  moving to a place
opposite  on the other side
out of  leaving something.
outside  opposite of inside
over  above something./somebody.
past  going near something./somebody.
round  in a circle
through  going from one point to the other point
to  towards something./somebody.
towards  in the direction of something.
under  below something.
up  from low to high