Explanation

A member of a closed word class, including of and in, which grammatically link other elements together, and generally expresses relations in space, in time, or in the mind.

A preposition links a following noun, pronoun or noun phrase to some other word in the sentence. Prepositions often describe locations or directions, but can describe other things, such as relations of time.

Words like before or since can act either as prepositions or as conjunctions.

  • Tom waved goodbye to Christy.
  • She’ll be back from Australia in two weeks.
  • I haven’t seen my dog since this morning.

Contrast: I’m going, since no-one wants me here! [conjunction: links two clauses]

Prepositions in instructional writing

Prepositions are particularly important when trying to communicate instructions about time and place.

The Activity page appears in the menu entitled 'This Unit' in the upper right corner of this page. The Activity page contains one slide: an example of instructional writing from our corpus. You can see that quite precise instructions are given as part of a recipe. It is reprinted below with the prepositions highlighted.

Method

Prepositions in instructional writing: Activity

Method

Cut the meat into even-sized cubes, leaving any fat, but removing all gristle.

Process for 10 seconds, scrape the sides. Make sure the meat is thoroughly evenly cut, then turn the meat into a separate bowl.

Add the onion and egg yolk to the bowl and process until the food is pureed, add salt and pepper to the meat.

Writing a story with prepositions

Applying knowledge of prepositions to a short story

This lesson looks at how you might use your knowledge of prepositions and preposition phrases to write a short story aimed at children.

Identify the prepositions

Find the prepositions in a range of examples

Click on the words that you think are prepositions to select or deselect them.

Y6 GPaS Test: Identify the prepositions

Find the prepositions in a range of examples

Identify the prepositions in each of the following examples. Click on the word (or words) to select or deselect them.

Y6 GPaS Test: Pronoun or preposition?

In each of the following examples, indicate whether the highlighted word is a pronoun or a preposition:

Preposition phrases

A preposition phrase has a preposition as its Head word, usually followed by a noun phrase. Here are some examples of preposition phrases, showing a preposition + noun phrase sequence:

  • in + boxes
  • in + the boxes
  • in + the big boxes under the table

The noun phrase can be a single word or a string of words, as the examples show.

Here are some examples of prepositional phrases in sentences:

Prepositions

Prepositions are a closed class of words. They are generally quite short words that often relate to meanings of place and time.

The following are common prepositions:

  • about, above, across, after, at, before, below, by, down, during, excluding, for, from, in, into, near, of, off, on, onto, outside, through, to, towards, under, up, upon, with, within, without

This is not a complete list.

Some prepositions are made up of more than one word:

»

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Englicious (C) Survey of English Usage, UCL, 2012-15 | Supported by the AHRC and EPSRC. | Cookies