what is a preposition?

A preposition is a word which describes the relationship between an object and another word, object, or element in the sentence. There are over 100 of them in the English language but some are used more frequently than others.


You can visit my main prepositions page for a more detailed guide.

what is a preposition

common prepositions

Prepositions are a huge part of the language so it’s good for you to be able to recognise and use them. Let’s take a look at some of the most common ones we use regularly with examples.

  • above
    meaning – at a higher level than something else
    example – My grades are above average.
most common prepositions - above
  • across
    meaning – from one side to another
    example – He threw a pen across the classroom.
most common prepositions - across
  • after
    meaning – a later time than something else
    example – After the film, we’ll go to bed.
after meaning
  • against
    meaning – in contact with
    example – Don’t lean against the wet paint.
against meaning
  • ago
    meaning – from a specific point in time until the present time
    example –  I told you a few minutes ago.
ago meaning
  • along
    meaning – from one end to another
    example – We walked along the beach.
most common prepositions - along meaning
  • alongside
    meaning – close to
    example –   He was sitting alongside Katherine.
alongside meaning
  • among
    meaning – surrounded by
    example –  David was among the guilty.
among preposition
  • amongst
    meaning – surrounded by
    example – He was amongst the best in the school.
amongst preposition
  • around
    meaning – in a loop
    example – We walked around the shop for hours.
around preposition
  • at
    meaning – a time something takes place
    example – We’re starting the meeting at 9.
    meaning – a location something takes
    example – Meet me at the church before dark.
at meaning
  • before
    meaning – earlier than something else
    example – Eat your dinner before you play on the games console.
    meaning – in front of
    example – He sat before the judge.
before meaning
  • behind
    meaning – at the back of
    example – I’ll sit behind you.
behind meaning
  • below
    meaning – in a lower position
    example – It is going to be below zero tonight.
below meaning
  • beneath
    meaning – under
    example – Your book is beneath the magazine.
beneath meaning
  • beside
    meaning – close to
    example – I do like to be beside the seaside.
beside meaning
  • between
    meaning – in the space separating two objects
    example – I’ll sit between you and Mike.
between meaning
  • beyond
    meaning – further than
    example – Look beyond the horizon.
beyond meaning
  • by
    meaning – no later than
    example – Be home by 12 or else.
    meaning – close to
    example – You can stand by me.
by meaning
  • down
    meaning – from a higher point to a lower point
    example – The card tower fell down.
down meaning
  • during
    meaning – throughout the duration of something
    example – Hannah was bullied during secondary school.
during meaning
  • for
    meaning – over a period of time
    example – I’ve been unhappy for years.
for meaning
  • from
    meaning – a starting point
    example – We’ll start from the very beginning.
from meaning
  • in front of
    meaning –  in a position ahead of someone or something
    example – Max is way in front of James with 1 lap left to run.
in front of meaning
  • in
    meaning –  surrounded by, inside
    example – I think I left my glasses in the car.
  • meaning – a period of time
    example – We’ll start the game in 10 minutes.
in meaning
  • inside
    meaning – the inner part
    example – Everyone get inside, it’s starting to rain.
inside meaning
  • into
    meaning – movement to the inside
    example – He jumped into the swimming pool.
into meaning
  • near
    meaning – close to
    example – I live near Sammi.
near meaning
  • next to
    meaning – right by the side of something
    example – The cinema is next to the Greek restaurant.
next to meaning
  • off
    meaning – from a place
    example – Get this bug off my arm.
off meaning
  • on
    meaning – touching a surface
    example – My clothes are on the floor.
on meaning
  • onto
    meaning – movement to a surface
    example – The cat jumped onto the table.
onto meaning
  • opposite
    meaning – facing something else
    example –  I live opposite the library.
opposite meaning
  • out of
    meaning – from the inside to the outside
    example – Get out of my bedroom.
out of meaning
  • outside
    meaning – not enclosed/in the open
    example – My pet rabbit lives outside.
outside meaning
  • over
    meaning – in an above position
    example – The cat jumped over the fence.
over meaning
  • past
    meaning – beyond
    example – Turn around, you’ve driven past my house.
past meaning
  • since
    meaning – from a specific point in time until the present time
    example – I’ve been driving since 1990.
since meaning
  • through
    meaning – from one end to another
    example – We went through a tunnel.
through meaning
  • to
    meaning – in the direction of
    example – Walk to George Street, I’ll meet you there.
to meaning
  • towards
    meaning – move closer to
    example – Head towards the town centre.
towards meaning
  • under
    meaning – a lower position
    example – The dog is hiding under my bed.
under meaning
  • underneath
    meaning – beneath
    example – I found my phone underneath the sofa.
under meaning
  • until/till
    meaning – up to a certain point in time
    example –   You can stay up till midnight.
until meaning
  • up
    meaning – from a lower point to a higher point
    example –  Walk up the hill and turn left.
up meaning
  • with
    meaning – accompanied by
    example – I’m going with Sally.
with meaning
  • within
    meaning – inside
    example – Colour in the picture and keep within the lines.
within meaning
  • without
    meaning – lacking something
    example – I drink coffee without sugar.
without meaning
preposition list
preposition list
preposition list
preposition list
preposition list
preposition list

You can download a table to read at your leisure.

Three of the most common prepositions are in, on and at. They have many uses, click here to find out more.