myQBook Grammar Concept



Prepositions

Prepositions have a job similar to that of conjunctions, except with more variety. Prepositions describe a specific relationship between nouns or pronouns and the rest of the sentence. Here is an example:

Katherine moved around the chair.

"Around" is the preposition in this sentence. It relates "Katherine moved" with "the chair", in that she moved around it. "Around" is the specific relation between Katherine's movement and the chair.

However, she could also have moved under it, beside it, over it, etc. This is why there are so many prepositions. In fact, a preposition is just about anything you can do to a chair.

Of course, there are always some exceptions. Prepositions that have to do with time, such as before and after, are exceptions. The word “of”, an exception, may be the most commonly used preposition.

Whatever a preposition is relating the rest of the clause to is called the object of the preposition. The object of the preposition almost always comes somewhere after the preposition. There is sometimes an article or a regular adjective in front of the object that describes it; there may even be an adverb describing the adjective. Consider the following sentence:

The food supplies landed a few hundred meters away from the very famished soldiers.

In this example, “from” is the preposition. “From” is relating the rest of the sentence to “soldiers”, the object of the preposition. As mentioned above, there may be some adjectives describing the object of the preposition and some adverbs describing those adjectives. In this sentence, there is one article, “the”, one regular adjective, “famished”, and one simple adverb, “very”.

Here is a list of common prepositions. The underlined and bolded prepositions are very common.

about

above

across

after

against

among

around

at

before

behind

beneath

below

between

by

down

during

for

from

in (and inside)

into

near

of

off

on

onto

out (and outside)

over

since

through

throughout

to

toward

under

until

up

upon

with

without

 

 

Many prepositions show location or position, but some prepositions show time. The time prepositions are:

after

before

during

until

 

For example:

He walked into class just before the bell rang.

She performed first aid on the victim until the paramedics arrived.

He stayed calm during the entire ordeal.

In the above examples, “before”, “until”, and “during” all relate things with respect to time.

 

There are some prepositions that can serve as both time prepositions and regular prepositions. Some common ones are:

at

for

from

in

on

past

to

within

between

by

since

 

 

For example:

She jumped at the sight of the bear.

She began working at 10:00 a.m.

He dove between his attackers.

His clinic was open between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

The deer was within range.

Within the hour, they had spotted a deer.

In the examples above, the underlined prepositions are regular prepositions, and the bolded prepositions are time prepositions.

 

Together, the preposition, object of the preposition, and any modifiers combine to form a prepositional phrase. Prepositional phrases are very common in everyday writing. They may come before, in the middle of, or after the main clause. Consider the following example:

In yesterday’s report, witnesses claimed a man on a motorbike had stolen money from the store.

The first prepositional phrase, “In yesterday’s report” comes before the main clause.

The second prepositional phrase, “on a motorbike” comes in the middle of the main clause.

The last prepositional phrase, “from the store”, comes after the main clause.

In a sentence, a prepositional phrase serves to add more detail to the sentence. It does this by relating the sentence to a noun or pronoun. In the above example, instead of “Witnesses claimed that a man had stolen money,” the three prepositional phrases add much more detail to the scene.

 

 





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Common Mistakes: Adverb or Adjective?
Common Mistakes: Preposition or Adverb?

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