Struggling with prepositions? These small words can be one of the trickiest parts of speech to understand. However, looking at examples often makes things clearer, which is why we've compiled a list of 49 common preposition examples for you. After recapping what prepositions are, we dive into our list of prepositions, each of which includes a sample sentence. Then we wrap up by giving tips on how to identify different types of prepositions.
What Is a Preposition?
Before we go over our list of prepositions, let's review the preposition definition. A preposition is a word that describes the relationship between a word/phrase before it and a word/phrase that follows it. For example, in the sentence, "The truck drove over the river." the preposition is "over" and it explains the relationship between "truck" and "river." Where was the truck in relation to the river? It was over it. By switching the preposition, we can get sentences with slightly different meanings, such as "The truck drove near the river" or "The truck drove around the river."
The word that follows the preposition, either a noun or a pronoun, is called the object of the preposition. Together the preposition and the object of the preposition make up the prepositional phrase. A prepositional phrase can function either as an adjective or an adverb, and when a preposition occurs in a sentence, it will always be part of a prepositional phrase. In the first example sentence above, "The truck drove over the river," "over" is the preposition, "the river" is the object of the preposition, and "over the river" is the prepositional phrase.
Preposition List: 49 Examples
Below is a list of 49 common prepositions, each with a sample sentence so you can see how the preposition is used.
|Above||Evelyn strung the lights above the patio.|
|About||My lawyer told me that we had to talk about my finances.|
|Across||The duck slid across the frozen pond.|
|After||My mom agreed to let me do my chores after the football game ended.|
|Against||The elections pitted Alex against his neighbors.|
|Along||My grandmother always said the best raspberries grow along the riverbank.|
|Among||Among the students, the professor's class on digital media was incredibly popular.|
|Around||Before they started work, the employees gathered around the water cooler to discuss the new layoffs.|
|At||Erika was upset because she lost her favorite pair of earrings at Lollapalooza.|
|Because of||When I first met Amy, I thought she was rich because of the designer purse she carried.|
|Before||If you want the recipe to turn out well, it's very important to add the eggs before the flour.|
|Behind||Eric and Ben found their dog cowering behind the rhododendron bushes.|
|Below||My father told me I wouldn't get an allowance if I scored below 80% on my chemistry exam.|
|Beneath||Some people believe the lost city of Atlantis is still buried beneath the sea.|
|Beside||The bride made her way down the aisle to stand beside her groom.|
|Between||Between my homework and my new job, I don't think I'll be getting much sleep this week.|
|By||Put the package by the door so you don't forget to take it with you when you leave.|
|Considering||Considering the childhood she had, Iris has had an incredibly successful life.|
|Close to||My dream is to own a house close to the beach.|
|Down||A fight began when the children couldn't decide whose turn it was to go down the slide next.|
|During||During summer break, my goal is to read one book a week.|
|Except||Everyone wanted to see the new horror movie except me.|
|From||Alba's parents immigrated here from Spain.|
|Following||Following the instructions will make building furniture easier.|
|For||Isaac new his wife had had a long day at work, so he bought a bouquet of flowers for her.|
|Inside||I really hope there is air conditioning inside the theater.|
|Instead of||After comparing prices, Mallory decided she'd have a burger instead of filet mignon.|
|Into||Lucien had to crawl to get into the tunnel.|
|Like||Mark's race car doesn't have three different speeds like Etta's race car does|
|Near||It's important to choose a hotel near the main attractions of the city.|
|Of||My sister always has a glass of warm milk before she goes to bed.|
|Off||Because she was having guests over, Diana ordered her dog off the couch.|
|On||I was astonished when I heard Nicole's voice on the radio.|
|On behalf of||The courtier delivered the invitations on behalf of the king and queen.|
|Out of||With a perfect swing, Anthony hit the ball out of the stadium.|
|Outside||Giza is a suburb that's slightly outside Cairo's city limits.|
|Over||The villagers are working together to build a bridge over the river.|
|Past||I was so tired from waiting tables all day that Ii drove past my own street.|
|Since||London has been an important city in England since Roman times.|
|Through||The patient's lingering cough lasted through winter.|
|To||Damien decided to wear his new shoes to the school dance.|
|Toward||My mentor always reminds me to keep working toward my goals.|
|Under||I don't think keeping money under your pillow is the safest place for it.|
|Until||Don't stop whipping the mixture until soft peaks form.|
|Up||Elizabeth was terrified to climb up the rickety ladder.|
|Upon||The protester climbed upon the monument so everyone could hear him.|
|With||Santiago always takes his tea with lemon and sugar.|
|Within||The guards ordered the entire town to ride out the siege within the city walls.|
|Without||The little girl never went anywhere without her teddy bear.|
Tips for Identifying Prepositions
Still not entirely sure about prepositions? Here are three tips for identifying them.
#1: They're Usually Short Words
Prepositions are typically short words, and the majority of the most common prepositions are one syllable: at, by, of, with, up, on, off, down, from, to, in, out, etc. While there are some longer prepositions such as "concerning," "including," and "following," a good first trick to use when searching for prepositions is to look for a short word.
#2: They're Never Followed by a Verb
A preposition is followed by the object of the preposition, which is either a noun or a pronoun (sometimes with an article/adjective in front of it), never a verb. Any word that is immediately followed by a verb cannot be a preposition.
Note: sometimes you may see a word that looks like a verb, but it's actually a gerund, a verb that acts like a noun. Look at this sentence: I finished the book before falling asleep.
Hopefully you can identify "before" as the preposition, but isn't "falling" a verb? Not in this example. Here, "falling asleep" is a noun (You finished the book before what? Before falling asleep.) specifically a gerund. The verb in this sentence is "finished." So it still follows the rule that prepositions are never followed by a verb. You can learn more about gerunds in this guide to verb tenses and forms.
#3: They Are Always Part of a Prepositional Phrase
If you look at the list of prepositions above, be aware that, although the words in the list are often prepositions, they are not always prepositions. For example, sometimes they're adverbs, and in those cases, they're not followed by an object of the preposition. Because a preposition is always part of a prepositional phrase, it's always immediately followed by the object of the preposition. Compare these two sentences:
"My little brother climbed up the fence."
"Lift the box up."
In the first sentence, "up" is used as a preposition, which you can tell because it's followed by the object of the preposition "the fence" creating the prepositional phrase "up the fence." In the second sentence, "up" isn't part of any prepositional phrase, and because of this, we know it can't be a preposition. Instead, it's an adverb, modifying the verb "lift."
If you're unsure if a word from this list is being used as a preposition, look for a prepositional phrase. If the word you're struggling over begins a prepositional phrase, then it's a preposition. If it's not part of a prepositional phrase, then it's a different part of speech.
Summary: Preposition Examples
Prepositions are small words that can be difficult at times to understand and identify. By looking at the preposition examples and preposition list above, you can get a better idea of what preposition words are and how they look in a sentence. Common prepositions are at, by, for, on, of, off, to, and with.
Remember, all prepositions are part of a prepositional phrase, they're never followed by a verb, and prepositions are usually short words.
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Christine graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Environmental Biology and Geography and received her Master's from Duke University. In high school she scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and was named a National Merit Finalist. She has taught English and biology in several countries.