Prepositions are often very small words, but that doesn’t stop them having a lot of different roles.
Prepositions of Time, Place and Movement
A preposition is a word or set of words that indicates location (in, near, beside, on top of) or some other relationship between a noun or pronoun and other parts of the sentence (about, after, besides, instead of, in accordance with). A preposition isn’t a preposition unless it goes with a related noun or pronoun, called the object of the preposition.
In this topic, we will learn …
Prepositions of Time
A preposition of time is a preposition that allows you to discuss a specific time period such as a date on the calendar, one of the days of the week, or the actual time something takes place. Prepositions of time are the same words as prepositions of place, however, they are used in different ways. You can easily distinguish these prepositions, as they always discuss times rather than places.
Here is a long list of prepositions of time in English:
- at – used to specify a particular point in time, e.g. at 6 o’clock, at sunset
- in – used to describe a period of time, e.g. in the morning, in 2021
- on – used to specify a particular day or date, e.g. on Monday, on New Year’s Day
- by – used to indicate a deadline, e.g. I need to finish the project by Friday
- before – used to indicate a time earlier than a specific point, e.g. I need to leave before 6 PM
- after – used to indicate a time later than a specific point, e.g. I’ll see you after the movie
- since – used to indicate a specific starting point in time, e.g. I’ve been waiting here since 10 AM
- for – used to indicate a duration of time, e.g. I’ve been sleeping for 8 hours
- during – used to indicate a time period that an action is taking place, e.g. I’ll be busy during lunchtime
- from…to/until – used to indicate a starting and ending time, e.g. I’ll be available from 9 AM to 5 PM.
- Meet me at five o’clock.
- I work all day on Saturdays.
- He likes to read in the evening.
- He worked for twenty years.
Prepositions of Place
Prepositions of place describe the position of a person or thing in relation to another person or thing.
Here is a long list of prepositions of place in English:
- at – used to indicate a specific location, e.g. at the bank, at the door
- in – used to indicate a location inside a larger area, e.g. in the room, in the city
- on – used to indicate a location on a surface, e.g. on the table, on the wall
- under – used to indicate a location below a surface, e.g. under the bed, under the bridge
- above – used to indicate a location above a surface, e.g. above the clouds, above the cupboard
- beside – used to indicate a location next to something, e.g. beside the river, beside the road
- between – used to indicate a location in the middle of two things, e.g. between the buildings, between the trees
- behind – used to indicate a location at the back of something, e.g. behind the house, behind the curtain
- in front of – used to indicate a location in front of something, e.g. in front of the museum, in front of the TV
- near – used to indicate a location close to something, e.g. near the park, near the store
Note: Some prepositions can be used for both time and place, such as “in” and “on”.
Now look at these example sentences:
- There is a cup on the table.
- The helicopter hovered above the house.
- The police placed a sheet over the body.
- He stood in front of the door and rang the bell.
- Ram sat beside Tara.
- A small stream runs below that bridge.
- He put the key under the doormat.
- He put his hands behind his back.
Prepositions of Movement
Prepositions of movement are used to show movement from one place to another. These prepositions are most often used with verbs of motion and are found after the verb.
Here is a long list of prepositions of movement in English:
- to – used to indicate the direction of movement towards a place, e.g. I am going to the park.
- toward – used to indicate the direction of movement towards a place, e.g. She walked toward the door.
- from – used to indicate the starting point of movement, e.g. She came from the store.
- into – used to indicate the movement inside a place, e.g. She walked into the room.
- out of – used to indicate the movement out of a place, e.g. He walked out of the room.
- through – used to indicate the movement from one side to the other side of something, e.g. She walked through the door.
- across – used to indicate the movement from one side to the other side of a place, e.g. He walked across the street.
- over – used to indicate the movement from one side to the other side of something, e.g. The bird flew over the river.
- along – used to indicate the movement along a path, e.g. They walked along the beach.
- down – used to indicate the movement from a higher place to a lower place, e.g. She climbed down the ladder.
Note: Some prepositions can be used for both place and movement, such as “to”, “into”, and “out of”.
- I go to school by bus.
- You must walk across the street at the crosswalk.
- He’s walking along the path.
- You must drive around the city center to reach the cinema.
- We are going down to Florida this summer.
- We went into the shop on the corner.
- We get off the train at the next stop.
- Walk past the theater on the right and the bank is on the left.
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