Thursday, 13 September 2012

Prepositions in English

The Prepositions

The information below gives the most usual meanings of English prepositions.
                   Each meaning is illustrated by an example.

    1. On the subject of:  This is a story about elephants.
    2. Approximately:  He is about ten years old.

    1. Higher than; over:  The plane flew above the clouds.
    2. Earlier on a page:  There is a heading above each diagram.

    1. From one side to the other:  We walked across the field.
    2. On the other side of:  There is a store across the street.

    1. Later in time:  after ten o'clock; after lunch
    2. Later in a series:  Q comes after P in the alphabet.
    3. In pursuit of:  The dog ran after the cat.

    1. In opposition to:  Theft is against the law.
    2. Touching; supported by:  I leaned my bicycle against the wall.

    1. Following the length of:  We walked along the road.

    1. within a group:  The money was shared among three people.

Note: In formal English, among is usually used only when referring to more than two
persons or things. In contrast, between is used when referring to two persons or things.

    1. Circling something:  We walked around the block.
    2. Surrounding:  There is a fence around the garden.
    3. In different parts of:  I looked around the house for the keys.
    4. In the other direction:  We turned around and went back home.
    5. Approximately:  He is around six feet tall.

    1. A specific location:  at 23 Chestnut Street; at the park
    2. A point in time:  at 5 o'clock; at Christmas
    3. A condition:  at peace; at war; at rest
    4. An activity:  at work; at school; at play
    5. Towards:  Look at someone; wave at someone

Note: When referring to a specific location or to a point in time, at is usually used. When referring to a certain street or a certain day, on is usually used. When referring to a location as an area, or when referring to a unit of time longer than a day, in is usually used.
e.g. at Christmas; on Christmas day; in the Christmas holidays

    1. Earlier in time:  before two o'clock; before Christmas
    2. Earlier in a series:  S comes before T in the alphabet.

    1. At the back of:  The little girl hid behind her mother.
    2. Late:  I am behind in my work.
    3. Cause; origin:  Who was behind that idea?

    1. Lower than; under:  below freezing; below sea level
    2. Later on a page:  Footnotes are provided below the text.

    1. Lower than; below:  beneath the earth

    1. Next to; at the side of:  I sit beside her in class.

    1. Also; as well as:  We study other languages besides English.

Note the differing meanings of beside and besides. Beside is usually used with reference to a physical location.

    1. An intermediate location:  Toronto lies between Montreal and Vancouver.
    2. An intermediate time:  between Christmas and New Year's Day
    3. Intermediate in a series:  B comes between A and C in the alphabet.
    4. An intermediate amount:  between five and ten people
    5. Within a group of two:  The money was shared between two people.

    1. Farther than:  The mountains lie beyond the horizon.
    2. Further than; exceeding:  That was beyond my expectations.

    1. Except:  I have read all but the last chapter.

Note: But is used more often as a conjunction than as a preposition.

    1. Near:  a house by the sea
    2. Past:  He waved as he drove by the house.
    3. Not later than:  Try to finish the work by next week.
    4. In units of:  cheaper by the dozen; sold by weight
    5. Through the means of:  travel by plane; written by him

Note: By is often used in combination with verbs in the Passive Voice.

    1. To a lower position:  The ball rolled down the hill.
    2. Further along:  He lives down the street.

    1. Throughout a period:  She works during the day.
    2. Sometime within a period:  An accident occurred during the night.

    1. Duration of time:  We walked for two hours.
    2. Distance:  I walked for five kilometers.
    3. Purpose:  I bought this jacket for you.
    4. In the direction of:  She left for New York.
    5. In favor of:  We are for the proposal.
    6. Considering:  The boy is clever for his age.

    1. Place of origin:  We left from Boston; he comes from Mexico
    2. Start of a period of time:  from now on; from yesterday until today
    3. Start of a range:  From 20 to 30 people were present.
    4. Cause:  He suffers from nervousness.
    5. Source:  I first heard the story from you.

    1. Place thought of as an area:  in London; in Europe
    2. Within a location:  in the room; in the building
    3. Large units of time:  That happened in March, in 1992.
    4. Within a certain time:  I will return in an hour.
    5. By means of:  write in pencil; speak in English
    6. Condition:  in doubt; in a hurry; in secret
    7. A member of:  He is in the orchestra; in the navy
    8. Wearing:  the boy in the blue shirt
    9. With reference to:  lacking in ideas; rich in oil

    1. Within:  They are inside the house.

    1. To the inside of:  We stepped into the room.
    2. Change of condition:  The boy changed into a man.

    1. Location:  east of here; the middle of the road
    2. Possession:  a friend of mine; the sound of music
    3. Part of a group:  one of us; a member of the team
    4. Measurement:  a cup of milk; two meters of snow

    1. Not on; away from:  Please keep off the grass.
    2. At some distance from:  There are islands off the coast.

    1. Touching the surface of:  on the table; on the wall
    2. A certain day:  That happened on Sunday, on the 6th of June.
    3. A certain street:  on South Street
    4. About:  a book on engineering
    5. A state or condition:  on strike; on fire; on holiday
    6. By means of:  live on a pension; shown on television

    1. To a position on:  The child climbed onto the table.

Out of:
    1. To the outside of:  She went out of the room.
    2. From among:  We won two games out of three.
    3. Motive:  We spoke to them out of politeness.
    4. Material:  The bridge is made out of steel.
    5. Beyond:  out of control; out of danger

    1. On the outer side of:  outside the house
    2. Beyond the limits of:  outside my experience

    1. Above; higher than:  There are cupboards over the sink.
    2. Covering:  We spread an extra blanket over the bed.
    3. Across:  I jumped over a puddle.
    4. More than:  It cost over ten dollars; it took over an hour
    5. During:  I saw him several times over the past week.
    6. By means of:  We made plans over the telephone.

    1. From a specific time in the past:  I had been waiting since two o'clock.
    2. From a past time until now:  I have been waiting here since noon.

Note: Because of its meaning, the preposition since is usually used in combination with a perfect tense. It should be noted that the preposition for can also be used with a perfect tense. However, when used with reference to time, for is usually followed by a phrase referring to a period of time; whereas since is usually followed by a phrase referring to a specific time.

     1. I have known him for six months.
     2.I have known him since January.

In the first example, for is followed by six months, which refers to a period of time. In the second example, since is followed by January, which refers to a specific time.
1. Across; from end to end of:  the main road through town
            2. For the whole of a period:  I slept through the night.
            3. By means of:  Skill improves through practice.
            1. In every part of:  throughout the world
            2. For the whole of a period:  throughout the winter

Note: Till can be used instead of until. However, at the beginning of a sentence, until is usually used.

    1. In the direction of:  Turn to the right.
    2. Destination:  I am going to Rome.
    3. Until:  from Monday to Friday; five minutes to ten
    4. Compared with:  They prefer hockey to soccer.
    5. With indirect object:  Please give it to me.
    6. As part of infinitive:  I like to ski; he wants to help.
    7. In order to:  We went to the store to buy soap.

Toward (or Towards):
    1. In the direction of:  We walked toward the center of town.
    2. Near; just before (time):  It rained towards evening.

    1. Beneath:  under the desk; under the trees
    2. Less than:  Under 100 people were present.
    3. In circumstances of:  under repair; under way; under discussion

    1. Below, under:  underneath the carpet

    1. Up to a certain time:  She will stay until Friday; until 5 p.m.
Note: On and upon have similar meanings. Upon may be used in certain expressions, as in once upon a time, and following certain verbs, as in to rely upon someone.

    1. To a higher place:  We went up the stairs.
    2. In a higher place:  She lives up the hill.
Up to:
    1. As far as:  up to now; I have read up to page 100.
    2. Depending on:  The decision is up to you.
    3. As good as; ready for:  His work is up to standard.
    1. Accompanying:  He came with her; I have my keys with me.
    2. Having; containing:  Here is a book with a map of the island.
    3. By means of; using:  I repaired the shoes with glue.
    4. Manner:  with pleasure; with ease; with difficulty
 5. Because of:  We were paralyzed with fear.
 1. Inside of:  within twenty minutes; within one kilometer

Prepositions of Place and Direction

higher than sth.
The picture hangs above my bed.
from one side to the other side
You mustn't go across this road here.
There isn't a bridge across the river.
one follows the other
The cat ran after the dog.

directed towards sth.
The bird flew against the window.
in a line; from one point to another
They're walking along the beach.
in a group
I like being among people.
in a circular way
We're sitting around the campfire.
at the back of
Our house is behind the supermarket.
lower than sth.
Death Valley is 86 metres below sea level.
next to
Our house is beside the supermarket.
sth./sb. is on each side[two]
Our house is between the supermarket and the school.
He lives in the house by the river.
close to
Our house is close to the supermarket.
from high to low
He came down the hill.
the place where it starts
Do you come from Tokyo?
in front of
the part that is in the direction it faces
Our house is in front of the supermarket.
opposite of outside
You shouldn't stay inside the castle.
entering sth.
You shouldn't go into the castle.
close to
Our house is near the supermarket.
next to
Our house is next to the supermarket.
away from sth.
The cat jumped off the roof.
moving to a place
The cat jumped onto the roof.
on the other side
Our house is opposite the supermarket.
out of
leaving sth.
The cat jumped out of the window.
opposite of inside
Can you wait outside?
above sth./sb.
The cat jumped over the wall.
going near sth./sb.
Go past the post office.
in a circle
We're sitting round the campfire.
going from one point to the other point
You shouldn't walk through the forest.
towards sth./sb.
I like going to Australia.
Can you come to me?
I've never been to Africa.
in the direction of sth.
We ran towards the castle.
below sth.
The cat is under the table.
from low to high
He went up the hill.


Prepositions of Time


in months
in July; in September
in 1985; in 1999
in summer; in the summer of 69
part of the day
in the morning; in the afternoon; in the evening
in a minute; in two weeks


part of the day
at night
time of day
at 6 o'clock; at midnight
at Christmas; at Easter
fixed phrases
at the same time

days of the week
on Sunday; on Friday
on the 25th of December*
special holidays
on Good Friday; on Easter Sunday; on my birthday
a special part of a day
on the morning of September the 11th*
Later than sth.
after school
how far sth. happened (in the past)
6 years ago
earlier than sth.
before Christmas
time that separates two points
between Monday and Friday
not later than a special time
by Thursday
through the whole of a period of time
during the holidays
period of time
for three weeks
from ... to
from... till/until
two points form a period
from Monday to Wednesday
from Monday till Wednesday
from Monday until Wednesday
time of the day
23 minutes past 6 (6:23)
point of time
since Monday
no later than a special time
till tomorrow
until tomorrow
time of the day
23 minutes to 6 (5:37)
up to
not more than a special time
up to 6 hours a day
during a period of time
within a day

prepared by: B.Balalji Reddy, Asso. Professor, SVPCET, PUTTUR

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