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A preposition is used to connect two things: a noun, an adjective or a verb that comes which is used first, and a noun phrase or a pronoun that comes after the preposition. In their simplest form, prepositions are used to indicate the position (in space or time) of one thing in relation to another.
Here are some of the most common English prepositions, with some examples:
Prepositions used to describe travelling
Travel or movement towards a place, town, country, or continent is usually expressed by the preposition "to"
Movement away from a place or city (etc) is expressed by "from" (if the verb requires a pronoun)
Mode of travel
Usually, the preposition "by" is used to describe how you travel.
The prepositions "in" and "on" describe your presence inside a vehicle.We say we are "in" a car, taxi or helicopter.
We normally use "on" to describe being inside a train, bus, boat, motorcycle, scooter, plane and horse.
Note: No preposition is used with verbs of movement and the noun 'home'.
Prepositions of movement
We generally use into and onto to talk about movement.
To talk about position, we usually use 'in' and 'on', whereas after verbs like 'throw', 'jump', and 'push' these same prepositions talk about movement.
'Out of' is the opposite of the preposition 'into'.
Prepositions and Time
"At" is used to specify a time. (This also includes 'at night', 'at Christmas', 'at Easter' and ' at the weekend')
"On" is used to talk about specify dates and days of the week.
"In" is used to talk about months, years and seasons.
In addition, "In the.." is used to talk about periods of time such as 'in the summer' or 'in the morning / afternoon / evening'.
'For..' is used to talk about the duration of something, whereas "in" is used to talk about the time it takes to complete a task.
Prepositions and Wh-questions
When a question word is the object of a preposition, the preposition usually comes at the end of the question. In simple terms, in wh-questions (questions with 'what', 'which', where' etc) if the verb requires a preposition, it is placed at the end of the question:
Also, the preposition usually comes at the end of indirect wh-questions.
In speech, some questions consist of only a question word and preposition.
Prepositions and Relative structures
When a relative pronoun is the object of a preposition, the preposition usually goes at the end of the clause.
Prepositions and Infinitive structures
Infinitive complements can also have prepositions with them.
Prepositions and Indirect objects
Some verbs are followed by two objects – a direct object and an indirect object. The prepositions "to" and 'for' are used to introduce an indirect object. The indirect object usually refers to a person and the direct object usually refers to a thing.
In the examples below, the pronoun 'this' refers to the direct object and the pronoun 'them' refers to the indirect object.
When both objects are pronouns, the indirect object usually comes after the indirect object. In other cases, it usually comes before the direct object.
When the indirect object comes after the direct object, it takes the preposition to or for. If the indirect object is placed in front of the direct object, we omit the preposition. Examples :