Parts of Speech: Prepositions

(image by Christophe Dioux)

(image by Christophe Dioux)

Are you confused by prepositions in English?

Do you forget if you need to say, “at work” or “in work”, “on Sunday” or “in Sunday”?

You are not alone!

Many people have problems with prepositions in English. Prepositions are small words with a big meaning! There are more than 150 prepositions in English! Wikipedia lists 521! That’s a lot! This link gives you access to a free eBook from EnglishClub with a full list and examples of prepositions. It’s 56 pages long, so I don’t recommend that you print it, but you can use it as an online resource.

The good news is, it’s not necessary to memorize the entire list. But, you should study as many as you can. Today we’ll look at some of them and how to use them.

What’s a preposition? 

A preposition is a word that shows when, where, or how something was done.

  • I have class on Mondays.
  • The boy jumped into the lake.
  • Sarah opened the lock with a key.

How do I use prepositions? 

The word “preposition” means “pre- position.” Therefore, they go in front of another word, usually a noun.

Prepositions of Place


(photo by WT instructor JLN)

These prepositions show where things are.

In this picture, the bowls are beside (next to) the glasses. They are above the plates and the cups. The plates and cups are under the bowls and glasses. The plates are between the glasses and the cups. One bowl is inside another bowl. All of the dishes are inside the cabinet.

Prepositions of Time

These prepositions tell when you do something. In, On, and At are the three most common prepositions.


In general month, year, time of day, general time in January, in 2012, in the morning, in the future
On day, date on Christmas Day, on July 14th, on Saturday
At specific time, *night at 7:00 at night

Prepositions of Agent

These prepositions show how something is done.

  • The glass is filled with water.
  • The book was written by Cervantes.

For more lists and exhaustive explanations of prepositions, click here or here.

For some practice, try any of these exercises:


(More difficult)

(Even more difficult!)

4 thoughts on “Parts of Speech: Prepositions

  1. The name Preposition itself tells that the position of word is before another word showing the relationship of words which are nearby.
    A preposition is used to show- direction, location, time and to introduce an object.

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