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6 Rules for prepositions: using them correctly
Easy grammar
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19.01.2023
Time icon 6 min
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6 Rules for prepositions: using them correctly

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English grammar can be confusing with its many strict rules, multiple verb tenses, fixed phrases, phrasal verbs, and exceptions. Students who are just starting to learn English may become demotivated if they only learn grammar from books and try to memorize each rule.

However, learning English grammar can be enjoyable. By using colorful word lists, tables, and video content, especially for younger kids, the goal of understanding grammar concepts in English can be easily reached.

In this article, we will focus on the topic of prepositions in English grammar. You will learn why words like “in,” “at,” “on,” and “to” are called prepositions and how to use them correctly in sentences.

Discover fun ways to learn English grammar and test your knowledge with the preposition quiz at the end of this article. Are you ready?

What are prepositions in English?

A preposition in English is a word or group of words used before a noun, pronoun, or noun phrase to show direction, time, place, location, spatial relationships, or to introduce an object*. 

Most popular examples of prepositions are short words like: in, at, on, of, to. 

Be careful: prepositions in English are highly idiomatic. Although there are some rules for their usage, fixed expressions dictate much preposition usage. In these cases, it is best to memorize the phrase instead of the individual preposition.

Examples of such phrases are: after all, as a result, by accident, for good, for a moment, under inspection, off duty, with delight. 

Prepositions can be divided into two groups – one-word prepositions such as: about, at, by, for, from, in, on, to and complex prepositions such as: according to, along with, because of, depending on, except for, in front of, next to.

List of prepositions in English

The complete list of prepositions in English grammar would contain a total of 150 one-word and complex prepositions. However, for beginners, a shorter list of 50 prepositions for kids should be enough to construct fully correct sentences in English. 

The most common prepositions you should know are shown with examples in the table below**. 

 

Preposition Example
about Tell me a story about your childhood.
above The waves came up above her head.
across I live across the street.
after I quit my job after one week.
against We are against discrimination.
along My dog ran along the track with me.
among We are among the only four survivors.
around It costs around 50 Dollars.
at I have a blind date at the Coffee House.
before The church was built before the temple.
behind She is standing behind that tree.
below Please do not write below this line.
beneath He found a penny beneath the couch.
beside She sat beside Marie.
between It is between the boxes and the sofa.
by It is a letter written by John.
down I looked down at the floor.
during She slept during the flight to France.
except She bought presents for everybody, except for me.
for I bought a present for Emily.
from We are from a foreign country.
in We are in the car parked outside.
in front of The lawn is in front of the house.
inside The keys are inside one of those boxes.
instead of I bought apples instead of pears.
into He entered into the woods.
like This is a story like no other.
near The hospital is near the gas station.
of I want a small piece of cake.
off The cat jumped off the counter.
on She always keeps her purse on the desk.
onto The baby climbed onto the table.
out of I was unable to get out of the appointment.
outside We are outside your house.
over The bird flew over my head.
past They took a walk past the park.
since I haven’t played soccer since 2005.
through The car went through the tunnel.
to The flight is going to India.
toward Move toward the door.
under The cat is under the car.
underneath There was a tunnel running underneath the city.
until I will stay until the show is over.
up It is up to us to find the answer.
upon The decision was based upon two considerations.
with I am with my friends at school.
within I will be there within a few minutes.
without I am running without proper equipment.
according to According to science, evolution is true.

How to use prepositions correctly? 6 rules for prepositions for kids

There are 6 simple rules that will help you recognize a preposition in a sentence. Memorize them all, and you will never miss another preposition in English grammar. 

  • #1 – Each preposition must have an object. 
  • #2 – A preposition must be placed before a noun or a pronoun. 
  • #3 – The pronoun following the preposition should be in the object form.
  • #4 – Remember two forms of prepositions: one-word and complex.
  • #5 – Do not confuse the preposition ‘to’ with the infinitive ‘to’.
  • #6 – A verb cannot be an object of a preposition.

Preposition for kids – learn with a video!

Kids learn new things most efficiently when their whole body can be involved. Educational video content is one of the best stimuli for kids who are learning English. 

In Novakid’s preposition video for kids, you’ll find lots of graphics, engaging movements and repetitions explaining this topic. It’s a real treat for visual, auditory, tactile and kinesthetic learners. You can also try repeating what the teacher is saying and doing in the video, together with your child.  

Preposition games for kids – top picks

Kids love games and fun activities, so in order to teach them to distinguish English prepositions, play some topic-related games. Here are some examples, to learn through play at your home.

Prepositional Pantomime

For this game, you can either use a large box, or just mime the actions. Demonstrate getting IN the box, sitting ON the box, sitting (or lying) UNDER the box, & sitting BY the box. Encourage your kid to call out a prepositional phrase and repeat, demonstrating it. 

Prepositional Memory Game

You can easily prepare memory cards at home. Make sure that your set contains pairs with the drawing of a preposition, such as on, in, at, above etc., and its written equivalent. Place cards on the table and try matching all the pairs. 

Preposition interactive games

There are many educational games available online that are specifically designed for kids. One example is a Prepositions game to help children learn English prepositions. These types of games can be a great way for kids to learn new vocabulary and grammar in a stress-free environment. Games are an effective tool for helping kids memorize new information and can make learning fun and enjoyable.

If you want your child to learn English in a fun and stress-free environment, consider Novakid. The Online Language School Novakid offers 1:1 lessons with native-speaking English teachers in a fun, virtual classroom. The lessons are practical and engaging, with an emphasis on games and interactive activities to help children learn vocabulary and grammar naturally.

Novakid’s lessons are short and fast-paced, lasting only 25 minutes, which helps younger children stay focused and retain new material. If you’re interested in Novakid’s approach to teaching English online to children aged 4-12, sign up for a free demo lesson and discover your child’s potential!

Check your knowledge – Prepositions – FAQ

Q: What is a preposition in English? 

A: A preposition is a word or group of words used to link nouns, pronouns, and phrases to other words in a sentence. 

Q: How many prepositions are there in English?

A: Prepositions are very common in English – there are about 150 English prepositions used in everyday conversations. 

Q: What are the most common prepositions? 

The most common prepositions in English are: above, across, against, along, among, around, at, before, behind, below, beneath, beside, between, by, down, from, in, into, near, of, off, on, to, toward, under, upon, with and within.

Q: What are 10 examples of prepositions? 

10 most frequently used examples of prepositions are single words like: in, at, on, of, to, by, with, or phrases such as: in front of, next to, instead of.

Q: How do you identify a preposition? 

Prepositions usually appear before a noun or pronoun, establishing a relationship between nouns, pronouns, and other parts of the sentence. They are often short words. 

Did you manage to understand and memorize the definition of prepositions in English grammar? Which prepositions do you find the easiest and the hardest to remember? Share with us in the comments section which preposition you use most frequently when speaking in English.

Did you like the article? 

*Source: https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/writingcenter/grammar/prepositions
**Source: https://englishpost.org/grammar-lessons-list-of-common-prepositions/

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