English Grammar: Lesson 20 (Part 1) – Prepositions

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Prepositions are small words, but they are perhaps the most difficult words to use correctly in a foreign language. There are many prepositions in English, but common English prepositions include at, for, from, in, of, on, to.

What Are Prepositions and Prepositional Phrases?

A preposition is a word that shows the relationship between a noun (or pronoun) and the rest of the sentence. Prepositions have many purposes, but they often give us information about place, time, and direction.

  • place: in the classroom, on the table, near the bank, at the bank, under the table
  • time: in the morning, in March, in 1985, in ten minutes, for ten minutes, at 9:45, on Monday
  • directionto the bank, from the bank

The combination of a preposition and its object (and any modifiers such as articles or adjectives) is called a prepositional phrase.

at home             under the sofa                       on the green table


A prepositional phrase can come at the beginning, middle, or end of a sentence.

  • beginning:     In central Canada, the weather can be incredibly cold.
  • middle:           Vicky studied French in central Canada in 2005 and 2006.
  • end:                 Dr. Ian Palmer teaches at a large university in central Canada.

Note that we usually use a comma after a prepositional phrase that comes at the beginning of a sentence.

  • beginning (with comma):        In the last century, air pollution damaged our forests.
  • end (with no comma):         Air pollution damaged our forests in the last century

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