English prepositions

Prepositions are tiny little words that give everyone a big headache.

For such little words they are pretty powerful, they show the relationships between nouns, pronouns and other words in a sentence. Most of the time they come before a noun, and can affect the time, place, and movement.

The good news is that they never change their form, regardless of the case, gender etc. of the word they are referring to.

They can be classified as simple or compound prepositions.

Simple prepositions are single word prepositions: across, after, at, before, between, by, during, from, in, into, of, on, to, under, with and without are all single word prepositions.

For example:-

  • The book is on the table.
  • The book is under the cloth.

Compound prepositions contain more than one word. Ahead of and because of, are still prepositions even though they contain two words, and there meaning can be a bit more difficult to work out.

For example:-

  • They followed the car ahead of them. (Gives information about place.)
  • They were following it because of the heavy fog. (Gives information about reason.)

In front of, in case of, on behalf of , are also compound prepositions. They just happen to contain three words.

For example:-

  • The book is on top of the bookcase.
  • The book is in front of the clock.

Their meaning can be less clear cut:-

For example:-

  • Some icons are sophisticated enough to be used in place of images.
  • In spite of the many technological advances available, many schools are still using pen and paper.