What is Preposition and Their Types: A Complete Preposition Lesson

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Lesson Overview

Learning Objectives

  1. Learn about different types of prepositions to use grammar correctly.
  2. Practice using the right prepositions in various situations to improve your English.
  3. Spot and fix common mistakes with prepositions to speak and write better.
  4. Use prepositions correctly in everyday conversations for clearer communication.
  5. Understand and use prepositional phrases to make complex sentences easier.

Introduction to Preposition

Ever thought why we say "on the bus" but "in the car"? This Preposition Lesson clears up the confusion around these critical components of English sentences. With lively examples and straightforward explanations, you will master the art of using prepositions effectively.

From the fundamental rules to advanced usage, we cover everything you need to enhance your writing and speaking. Perfect for anyone aiming to refine their grammatical precision and boost their overall language proficiency.

What are Prepositions?

Prepositions are words that link nouns, pronouns, or phrases to other words within a sentence. They act as indicators that tell us where something is positioned, when something happens, and how things are related.


The book is on the table.

She has been working here since January.

They walked to the park.

What Are the Different Categories of Prepositions?

1. Simple Prepositions

Single-word prepositions are the most commonly used in the English language.


  • She arrived at the station.
  • The book was written by her.
  • This gift is for you.
  • He lives in New York.
  • A group of students.
  • The cat is on the roof.

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2. Compound Prepositions

These consist of more than one word and usually start with a preposition followed by a noun or an adjective.


  • According to the weather forecast, it will rain today.
  • She was late because of the traffic.
  • She sat next to her friend.

3. Complex (Phrasal) Prepositions

Combinations of two or more words that function as a single preposition.


  • In addition to English, he also speaks Spanish.
  • I am speaking on behalf of my colleagues.
  • The car is parked in front of the house.

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4. Participle Prepositions

Prepositions formed from verbs that end in -ing and act as prepositions in sentences.


  • Considering the weather, we should postpone our trip.
  • The price includes everything, including taxes.
  • Following the instructions, she assembled the shelf.

5. Double Prepositions

Two simple prepositions used together to express a unique relationship.


  • She walked into the room.
  • He ran out of patience.
  • Someone called her from behind.

How to Use Different Types of Prepositions

Here are effective ways to use different types of prepositions.

1. Prepositions of Time

  • At: Used for precise times.

Example: The show starts at 8:00 PM.

  • On: Used for days and dates.

Example: My brother�s wedding is on October 5th.

  • In: Used for months, years, decades, centuries, and longer periods.

Example: We traveled to Japan in 2019.

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2. Prepositions of Place

  • At: Indicates a specific point or location.

Example: She will meet you at the airport.

  • In: Used for enclosed spaces.

Example: They live in New York City.

  • On: Refers to a surface.

Example: There is a cup on the table.

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3. Prepositions of Direction

  • To: Indicates movement towards a place.

Example: He went to the supermarket.

  • Towards: Suggests movement in the direction of something.

Example: The cat ran towards the house.

  • Into: Implies movement from outside to inside.

Example: She walked into the room.

4. Prepositions of Agent

  • By: Indicates the doer of the action.

Example: The letter was written by Sarah.

  • With: Shows an instrument used by the subject.

Example: He hit the nail with a hammer.

5. Prepositions of Instrument

  • On: Used with machines or devices.

Example: She listened to music on her phone.

  • By: Shows the means or method.

Example: They arrived by train.

6. Prepositions of Manner

  • With: Describes in what manner something is done.

Example: She spoke with enthusiasm.

  • In: Indicates the manner or style.

Example: He completed the task in style.

7. Prepositions of Source

  • From: Indicates the point at which something starts or originates.

Example: She traveled from New York to London.

  • Of: Shows what something is made of or where it is derived from.

Example: The pages of this book are made from recycled paper.

  • Out of: Shows movement from inside to the outside.

Example: He pulled a rabbit out of the hat.

8. Prepositions of Possession

  • Of: Indicates possession, belonging, or components.

Example: The color of the sky is blue.

  • With: Used to discuss characteristics.

Example: A girl with red hair.

Common Mistakes & Tips While Using Prepositions

Here are some common mistakes that usually people make and a few effective tips to avoid them while using prepositions.

Mistake 1: Incorrect Choice Between "In," "On," and "At"

  • Error: Misusing these prepositions for time and place, e.g., "She is waiting on the lobby."
  • Tip: Use "in" for enclosed spaces or larger areas (e.g., in the box, in the garden, in London), "on" for surfaces or specific days and dates (e.g., on the table, on Tuesday), and "at" for specific locations or exact times (e.g., at the door, at 3 PM).
  • Correct: She is waiting in the lobby.

PrepositionCommon UseExample Sentence
InEnclosed spaces, larger areasShe lives in New York.
OnSurfaces, specific days/datesThe keys are on the table.
AtSpecific points, timesMeet me at the front door.

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Mistake 2: Unnecessary Prepositions

  • Error: Adding prepositions where they aren't needed, e.g., "Where is my coat at?"
  • Tip: Do not add prepositions at the end of questions or statements where the meaning is clear without them.
  • Correct: Where is my coat?

Mistake 3: Confusing Prepositions with Adverbs

  • Error: Using a word as a preposition when it actually serves as an adverb, leading to unclear sentences, e.g., "She jumped off quickly."
  • Tip: Check if the word in question connects with an object to act as a preposition; if there�s no object and it modifies a verb, it's an adverb.
  • Correct: She jumped off the platform quickly. (Here, 'off' is a preposition linked with 'the platform,' which is its object.)

Mistake 4: Prepositions vs. Conjunctions

  • Error: Using "to" as a conjunction, can make sentences confusing, e.g., "I need to go to the store to buy milk."
  • Tip: "To" is a preposition indicating direction; use "and" to connect actions or clauses.
  • Correct: I need to go to the store and buy milk. 

Part of SpeechFunctionExample Usage
PrepositionConnects nouns to other wordsIn the garden (�in� connects �garden� to another element)
ConjunctionConnects clauses or phrasesShe was tired, but she continued.
AdverbModifies verbs, adjectives, adverbsShe quickly ran to the store.

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Mistake 5: Ending Sentences with Prepositions

  • Error: Avoiding sentence endings with prepositions where it�s naturally called for, making sentences awkward, e.g., "This is the rule to which we must adhere."
  • Tip: It's formally correct to avoid ending sentences with prepositions, but in conversational English, ending with prepositions is widely accepted and often sounds more natural.
  • Correct: This is the rule we must adhere to.

Exercise 1: Choose The Correct Preposition

  1. Please hang your coat ___ the closet.

(a) in

(b) on

(c) at

  • Correct Answer: (a) in
  • Explanation: "In" is used to indicate that something is inside or within confined boundaries.

2. She arrived ___ 10 o'clock ___ the morning.

(a) in, at

(b) on, in

(c) at, in

  • Correct Answer: (c) at, in
  • Explanation: "At" is used for precise times, and "in" is used for parts of the day.

3. We are going to meet ___ the corner of the street.

(a) in

(b) on

(c) at

  • Correct Answer: (c) at
  • Explanation: "At" is used to denote a specific point or location.

4. The cat is sleeping ___ the chair.

(a) on

(b) at

(c) in

  • Correct Answer: (a) on
  • Explanation: "On" indicates a surface of something, implying direct contact.

5. The painting is hanging ___ the wall ___ my room.

(a) on, in

(b) at, on

(c) in, at

  • Correct Answer: (a) on, in
  • Explanation: "On" is used because the painting is attached to the surface of the wall, and "in" indicates the enclosed space of the room.

Exercise 2: Fill In The Blank

  1. He drove __ the city to see the new museum.
  • Correct Answer: (a) into
  • Explanation: "Into" indicates movement from outside to a point within.

2. Could you put the books back __ the shelf?

  • Correct Answer: (b) on
  • Explanation: "On" is appropriate because the books rest on the surface of the shelf.

3. I have not seen him __ last Tuesday.

  • Correct Answer: (a) since
  • Explanation: "Since" indicates a point in time from which a continuous action, event, or state extends.

4. They walked __ the room and sat down.

  • Correct Answer: (a) into
  • Explanation: "Into" is used to express movement toward the inside of a defined space.

5. Do not end a sentence __ a preposition in formal writing.

  • Correct Answer: (a) with
  • Explanation: "With" is correct as it is commonly used in informational contexts despite the traditional guideline against ending sentences with prepositions.

Exercise 3: Identify The Statements As True Or False

  1. We walked to the park and played. ___



  • Correct Answer: True
  • Explanation: The sentence "We walked to the park and played." is grammatically correct as it properly uses the simple past tense and follows standard sentence structure.

2. She is interested in learn dancing. ___



  • Correct Answer: False
  • Explanation: The sentence should be "She is interested in learning dancing." The verb should be in the gerund form to fit the preposition "in."

3. He is at the gym right now. ___



  • Correct Answer: True
  • Explanation: The sentence is correct; "at" is appropriately used for locations.

4. The keys are on the table. ___



  • Correct Answer: True
  • Explanation: This sentence is correctly constructed, with "on" properly used to indicate the position on the surface.

5. Where did you find this at? ___



  • Correct Answer: False
  • Explanation: It's redundant to end the sentence with "at." The correct form is "Where did you find this?" This adheres to the guideline of not ending a sentence with a preposition.

Test Your Knowledge


Great job finishing your Preposition Lesson. Now, you must have gained clarity about English prepositions, including what they are, how to use them, and their rules. You've seen many examples and tried lots of exercises. This lesson has given you the tools to spot and use prepositions correctly in sentences.

Learning prepositions helps you get better at writing and speaking English. Keep using English every day and remember what you learned here to talk and write better. Keep practicing and refer back to this lesson to become even better at using prepositions!

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